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Tribute to Coleman Hawkins and Dizzy Gillespie

This week's show is a double bill saluting classic artists -- first, Coleman Hawkins; then, Dizzy Gillespie. And we hear portions of Dr. Billy Taylor's retirement from the concert stage.

Coleman Hawkins, from a publicity photo  

Coleman Hawkins

Young Lew Tabackin came to New York some 40 years behind tenor pioneer Coleman Hawkins. Tabackin met Hawkins in a funny way. A third saxophonist, Zoot Sims, took Lew to Hawkins' apartment. Lew was young and new in town. Hawkins was frail then, but at the time, Lew was heavy. When they sat down on the sofa together, the back legs gave away and the two men and the couch tipped over, feet waving in the air. Lew was terribly embarrassed and Hawkins knew it, so he shrugged it off with the comment: "I guess I'll have to get a new couch."

Then, with a wink, he blamed the whole thing on his friend Major Holley, the bass player, who was also visiting at the time. The brotherhood of sax men was unshaken.

It takes a substantial player with a passion and a sound to salute Coleman Hawkins, and we have our man in Lew Tabackin, abetted by an outstanding trio.

Lew Tabackin, tenor saxophone
Mulgrew Miller, piano
Peter Washington, bass
Mark Taylor, drums

"Hackensack"/"Riff Tide" by Thelonious Monk and Coleman Hawkins
"Self-Portrait of the Bean" by Duke Ellington for Hawkins


  • Lew Tabackin
  • Hawkins: A Brief Biography
  • Kennedy Center Jazz

    Dizzy Gillespie in 1955. Photo by Carl Van Vechten.  

    Dizzy Gillespie

    In the 1940s, a youthful Billy Taylor went to New York to find the greatest pianists of the day -- Duke Ellington and Art Tatum -- and the young adventurers, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. Eventually, Taylor related his adventures in jazz to national radio listeners over a 25-year career, from the mid-1970s to 2000, as founder and host of NPR's Jazz Alive!, Taylor-Made Piano and Jazz at the Kennedy Center.

    This JazzSet takes you Taylor's retirement from the concert stage, at the Kennedy Center where he is active to this day as Artistic Advisor for Jazz. Taylor invites trumpeter Jon Faddis to celebrate their mutual hero, Dizzy Gillespie (1917-1993).

    Taylor says farewell with "Take the A Train," played very slowly. Thank you for every note, Billy. Dee Dee Bridgewater and everyone at JazzSet hope that you're at work on your autobiography.

    Dr. Billy Taylor, piano
    Chip Jackson, bass
    Winard Harper, drums
    Jon Faddis, guest trumpeter

    "Woodyn You" by Gillespie
    "A Night in Tunisia" by Gillespie and Paparelli
    "Con Alma" by Gillespie
    "Take the A Train" by Strayhorn


  • Dr. Billy Taylor
  • Jon Faddis

    Kennedy Center Jazz: Kevin Struthers, Jean Thill, Sean Costello, Wesley R. Taylor
    Big Mo Recording: Greg Hartman, Chris Weal, Drew Doucette
    Music mix and technical direction for JazzSet: Duke Markos
    Producer: Becca Pulliam
    Executive Producer: Thurston Briscoe III at Jazz 88, WBGO in Newark

    Copyright 2007 NPR