From the Record Shelves #227

Miss Hannah

LP RCA Victor Vintage Series LPV-520

This record that I bought second-hand has Coleman Hawkins signature on the back of the sleeve. Thus, I feel like choosing a tune where he is featured on the record that otherwise has two different sides. On the first, we hear McKinney’s Cotton Pickers who came under Don Redman’s leadership at the end of the 1920s, and the second presents his own big band from around 1940.

Don Redman (1900–1964) arrived in New York in the beginning of the 1920s as an exceptionally educated musician, a multi-instrumentalist, and thanks to his theoretical knowledge soon a skilled arranger. His capacity came to good use when he became a part of Fletcher Henderson’s orchestra, and he also commissioned special arrangements for Paul Whiteman.

The McKinney tracks on the record have a focus on Redman, the arranger, but still, we can hear his alto sax in the opening chorus on this chosen one. It is from a session in New York when the band could not get free from their steady engagement in Detroit, so Redman made the trip with his arrangements under his arm and met up with an all star line up in the recording studio. He also took with him his banjo player, Dave Wilborn, which guaranteed a steady rhythm. Redman does the vocalizing accompanied by Fats Waller’s distant piano and a very soft tuba from Billy Taylor, which makes a fine dynamic contrast to the following when Wilborn reenters with his penetrating, distinct banjo playing behind Sidney De Paris forceful trumpet solo.

The clarinet solo is by Benny Carter, and then we hear Coleman Hawkins, already a giant on the tenor sax in 1929.