Coleman Hawkins – Hawk Eyes

More Coleman Hawkins

This Saxophone Ballad session from 1960 has to be seen as yet another recording triumph for Rudy Van Gelder  

The best pressings of these OJC reissues from the ’80s sound like the vintage jazz albums they emulate, and sometimes they even beat the originals at their own Tubey Magical game. They can be every bit as rich, sweet and spacious as their earlier-pressed brethren in our experience.

In the case of Hawk Eyes we simply have never seen an original copy clean enough to buy, so we have no reference for what an original would sound like.

That said, having critically auditioned literally hundreds and hundreds of vintage jazz records over the course of the last few years, we’re pretty confidant we know what they are supposed to sound like.

And they sound just like the best copies of this very pressing.

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today

Twenty years ago, when I was selling the OJC pressings of the album, I described the album this way:

Late ’50s mainstream jazz at its best! The sound is quite good, not the equal of the top recordings of the day, but respectable nevertheless. Of special note is the work of Tiny Grimes on guitar and Ray Bryant on piano, two of my favorite musicians. Of course the leaders, Hawkins on sax and Charlie Shavers on trumpet, are superb. You can’t go wrong with this one.

This line is important: “The sound is quite good, not the equal of the top recordings of the day, but respectable nevertheless.”

That’s still true — for the average copy. The premise of Hot Stampers is that there are going to be copies that look identical and but do not sound identical. No doubt the review copy I played was “good, not great.” We played some copies in our shootout like that.

But this is not one of the “not great” ones. This one is amazing sounding!

What to Listen For (WTLF)

The best copies are rich and tubey; many pressings were thin and modern sounding, and for that they would lose a lot of points. We want this record to sound like something RVG recorded in 1959, and the best copies give you that sound, without the surface noise and groove damage the originals doubtless suffer from.

Some copies have much more space; some are more present, putting the musicians right in the room with you; some are more transparent, resolving the musical information much better than others, letting you “see” everyone in the studio clearly. Some have more rhythmic drive than others. On some the musicians seem more involved and energetic than they do on the average pressing.

The copies that do all these things better than other copies are the ones that win our shootouts.

This is clearly one of the best copies we have ever played. We think you will enjoy it immensely. And watch for more Coleman Hawkins records coming to the site soon. With RVG at the board his recordings are often superb.


Side One

Hawk Eyes 
C’mon In

Side Two

Through For The Night 
I Never Knew 
La Rosita 
Stealin’ The Bean

AMG Review

Tenor-great Coleman Hawkins tended to be at his best when challenged by another horn player. On this highly enjoyable title, Hawkins is joined by the superb trumpeter Charlie Shavers and a strong rhythm section that includes guitarist Tiny Grimes and pianist Ray Bryant. With such superior songs as “Through for the Night,” “I Never Knew” and “La Rosita,” in addition to long jams, plenty of fireworks occur during this frequently exciting session.