Coleman Hawkins in Barcelona: Oct. 1964 & Nov. 1967

For the high and mighty hawk, the 1964-1969 years were a mixed bag of peaks of fertile creativity and periods of critically poor health condition, the latter clearly predominating in his last three years, due to alcoholism and a bad (or better, the lack of any) diet.

The Barcelona jazz aficionado from the 60s was extremely blessed to be able to attend two different Coleman Hawkins performances in just three years, though neither of them was musically successful, for two different reasons: battle of egos between Hawkins and Edison in the October 1964 concert and extreme physical weakness in the November 1967 date.

On October 14, 1964, Coleman Hawkins played at the Palacio de la Música Catalana (Barcelona) as part of the Mainstream Jazz Group, one of the ensembles integrated in the European Tour of the Newport Jazz Festival. The rest of the musicians were Harry 'Sweets' Edison (trumpet), Sir Charles Thompson (piano), Jimmy Woode (bass) and Jo Jones (drums). Reportedly, unrest from Hawkins and Edison was obvious during the concert, and every time Edison started a solo, Hawkins went backstage to handle his bottle of cognac. Jo Jones spent half the concert having murderous looks at both hornmen and the other half trying to keep the music alive. Albert Mallofré's review for the weekly magazine Destino highlighted Edison's brilliant playing and Hawkins' bad shape and pointed out that the winner was clearly Jo Jones. Reportedly the concert ended with a strong ovation that turned into annoyance and deception when Hawkins refused to play an encore.

On November 11, 1967, Coleman Hawkins played again at the Palacio de la Música, this time as part of the II Festival Internacional de Jazz de Barcelona. In late 1967, after his serious health issues from several months before (reaching its worst at the Oakland concert on June 30 after which he was hospitalized in Los Angeles the next day), Hawkins managed to make a European Tour, promoted by Norman Granz. The first round of dates was a series of concerts with the Oscar Peterson Trio (Sam Jones on bass and Bobby Durham on drums). According to his biographer John Chilton "Hawk was not in a robust mood for any of the shows, but he was generally in command of his saxophone. When he couldn't get what he termed 'the right kind of food' he went without, and inevitably this produced some uneven performances". This november 11 concert was one of them, and Hawkins was booed by a number of people in the audience. See Alberto Mallofré's review for La Vanguardia for more details.

Sad but true, the Hawk didn't fly high this time.

9 comentarios:

  1. Wonderful research! There is a video of the group with Edison, Sir Charles, and Jo (I think some excerpts are available on the ubiquitous You Tube) -- and also some music from French performances by that group was issued on vinyl (the France's Concerts label, if I remember correctly?). Edison played well, but when one thinks of the other front-line players who might have been available in 1964 (obviously Roy Eldridge was not) it seems a puzzling pairing -- even if the two men had gotten along tremendously well.

  2. The video Jazzlives is referring may be a BBC TV broadcast, Jazz 625, hosted by Steve Race, then Humphrey Lyttelton. IIRC, there's a fast tune, then some ballads as showcases for Hawkins and Edison, and then the grand finale, "Caravan", which is a personal favourite (dig that Papa Jo solo).

    A collection of Jazz 625s in VHS video was released in the mid-90s, but there has not been an official DVD reissue by the BBC (why, I don't know).


  3. ¿No hay forma de ver la noticia del concierto de Oscar Peterson mas grande? Además, es de lo poco que viene en castellano y encima me castigas de esa forma y yo que presumo de tener buena vista, pero ahí me la dejo toda y no soy capaz.

    Help me.

  4. Gracias, Fernando. Por alguna extraña razón, no funciona el doble click con esa imagen.


  5. I just came across this amazing blog!! I attended the Barcelona Festival in November 1967. At the time I was a student at the Universidad de Madrid. I came to Barcelona not for Gaudi but for the Oscar Peterson and Miles Davis concerts. I have no recollection of Coleman Hawkins being part of the OP concert. Although as a sax player, I should remember hearing/seeing the Hawk in person. Peterson was awesome as always. I do not recall being overwhelmed by Davis' performance that night in November 1967.

    Tom Holman
    New York, New York

  6. I just came across this incredible blog. Wonderful. I attended the Peterson and Davis concerts at the Barcelona Festival in November 1967. I was studying at the U. de Madrid and came to Barcelona not for Gaudi but for Miles and OP. I don't recall the Hawk playing with OP. Miles' performance did not blow me away. OP was fabulous (as he was at every OP concert I ever would attend). I really enjoyed seeing the newspaper clippings of the concerts. Many thanks!!

  7. Oscar Peterson Trio in Barcelona, 1984

    From a friend I received a great concert on DVD of the Oscar Peterson Trio, with Oscar Peterson, NHOP, and Martin Drew.
    Could anyone tell me, when this fine concert was recorded and broadcasted?

    Many thanks!
    Arnold. (Netherlands)