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Coleman Hawkins

I think he was the most interesting jazz musician Ive ever seen in my life. He just looked so authoritative . . . I said, Well, thats what I want to do when I grow up.(DeVeaux, 35) Cannonball Adderley said these words when he first saw Coleman Hawkins with the Fletcher Henderson band at the City Auditorium in Tampa, Florida. Just as Hawkins influenced one of the greatest alto players in history, he has influenced many people to become phenomenal saxophone players. Lester Young and Sonny Rollins both give tribute to Coleman Hawkins as being the proliferator of the tenor saxophone as a jazz instrument.(Kernfeld, 506) Hawkins, unfortunately, is labeled as a swing musician though; and while he did begin his career during the swing era playing with such greats as Louie Armstrong, Fletcher Henderson, Wilbur Sweatman, and Ginger Jones, he continued his career later in life with players like Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Milt Jackson some of the best bop and modern jazz artists known to date.(Kernfeld, 505) This paper is devoted to the truthful portrayal of Coleman Hawkins, his life, his playing, and the art he helped create known as jazz. Coleman Hawkins, also affectionately known as Bean and/or Hawk, was born November 21st, 1904 in St. Joseph, Missouri. The nick-name Bean came about due to his knowledge of music. Budd Johnson explained:We called him Bean . . . because he was so intelligent about music and the way he could play and the way he could think and the way his chord progressions run. Wed call him Bean, instead of Egghead, you know.(DeVeaux,65)He began music at the age of five, having been taught piano by his mother a school teacher and church organist. By about seven, he had moved on to cello, but was already asking his parents for a tenor saxophone, which he received on his ninth birthday. By the time he was twelve he was already being paid to perform at school dances. He then went to high school in Chicago f...

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