Coleman Hawkins

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Hawkins, Coleman,

1904–69, American jazz musician, b. St. Joseph, Mo. He began playing saxophone at the age of 9. He was part of Fletcher HendersonHenderson, Fletcher
(James Fletcher "Smack" Henderson), 1898–1952, American jazz composer, arranger, and pianist, b. Cuthbert, Ga. Henderson played piano from childhood. Short of funds after coming to New York City in 1920 to study graduate chemistry, he took a job with W.
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's band from 1924 until 1934. Hawkins established the tenor saxophone as a major jazz instrument. His enormous tone, vigorous attack, and improvisatory genius both in ballads and up-tempo pieces made his influence pervasive. Because his style constantly evolved, Hawkins was distinguished even in the company of avant-garde jazz musicians from 1945 until 1969.
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Hawkins, Coleman

(1904–69) jazz musician; born in St. Joseph, Mo. He was a tenor saxophonist who brought his instrument into prominence and was its most influential voice until the 1950s. He played with Fletcher Henderson's orchestra between 1924–34, then spent five years performing in Europe. Upon his return to the U.S.A. in 1939, he recorded his classic version of "Body and Soul." He remained a prolific recording artist and concert performer until the mid-1960s.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.