Kenny Burrell with Coleman Hawkins: Bluesy Burrell
This is the third Prestige album Burrell made with Coleman Hawkins, each with a different mood. The first, SOUL, was a gentle small group session with a nice version of "Greensleeves". The next, the underrated THE HAWK RELAXES, was a graceful ballad set, originally for the Moodsville label. This record was also for Moodsville, but this mood is sad, contemplative, and at times gentle. It's also the last Hawkins session for Prestige. He clearly enjoys playing with Burrell, as much as you'll enjoy playing the record.
Without knowing the production details, this sounds much more organized than a lot of Prestige sessions. The players know each other very well: Tommy Flanagan and Ray Barretto had done many sessions with the leaders, and Eddie Locke and Major Holley were in the Hawkins group at the time. While the group is a sextet, the album boasts five different lineups. Burrell has a solo recording (a slow, pretty, and too short version of "No More") and follows with a guitar-bass-drums number where the two strings blend well. When Barretto takes a breather, we get a Hawkins-Burrell dialogue on "I Thought About You" which I consider the highlight of the album. Bean is more aggressive here than on THE HAWK RELAXES, and his bite brings a lot of strength to this date. Then he sits down, and it's Burrell and Barretto for "Out of This World" , which driftssoftand sad with great interplay from drums and conga. Barretto also gets a solo, his only one here. These numbers alone show many moods and many tempos, with only a few of the pretty ballads expected from this label. It's already worthy of your ears - and then you hear the tracks with the full band.
The sextet appears three times, and all are keepers. "Tres Palabras", the opener, starts slow and develops slower. Flanagan and Barretto start a pattern which is gradually built by Burrell (a gentle, almost Brazilian solo), Flanagan (a single-note pattern based on his comping figures) and lastly Hawkins, pushing forward with a slow power, an understated authority. When he comes in, all is ready, and the others chug behind him, giving Bean a space to work his magic. Needless to say, he does. "Montono Blues" is forceful, led by a tough Burrell rhythm part and a fun bowed bass by Holley, singing along a la Slam. "It's Getting Dark" is another blues, this one slower and more relaxed.
It's definitely a variety album, with many tunes to choose from. Burrell is the star (his high ringing tone also plays octaves here and there), but everyone has their time in the spotlight, especially Hawkins, having a grand time on his last session for Prestige. An added plus is the liner notes, which give us two insights. First, that it was raining when the record was made. You can hear the rain in the mood here, especially on "Tres Palabras" and "Out of This World". The second is a quote Burrell made at the session: "C'mon Bean, let's play something pretty." They did.