Bennie Wallace – Disorder at the Border (The Music of Coleman Hawkins) – Enja/ Justin Time

by | Mar 13, 2007 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Bennie Wallace –  Disorder at the Border (The Music of Coleman Hawkins) – Enja/ Justin Time JENJ 3327-2,  65:22 ****:

(Bennie Wallace, tenor sax; Terell Stafford, trumpet; Ray Anderson, trombone; Jesse Davis, alto sax; Brad Leali, alto sax; Adam Schroeder, baritone sax; Donald Vega, piano; Danton Boller, bass; Alvin Queen, drums)

Recorded live in concert at the Jazzfest Berlin, on November, 6, 2004, Bennie Wallace assembled an all star group to highlight the music of arguably one of the two or three all time greatest jazz tenor sax titans, Coleman Hawkins. Recorded just a few weeks prior to Hawkins’ centenary birthday in 2004, the merged label of Enja/ Justin Time has spared no expense in the production of this CD. It was mixed by Joe Harley and Anthony Wilson (Gerald’s son), and mastered by the legendary Bernie Grundman in 2006.

Wallace’s tribute CD features only six tracks – either written by Hawkins or as part of his lifetime repertoire. Classics like Bean and the Boys and Honeysuckle Rose are included, and no Hawkins’ tribute can be complete without his signature standard, Body and Soul. None of the tracks on the CD are less than eight minutes and the gospel traditional; Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho, clocks in at close to seventeen minutes.

The CD opens with Disorder at the Border and Donald Vega has a long piano intro before the horns kick in. You’d think you were listening to a full big band, not just six horns, as a full big band power is in evidence. Wallace stays out front on the opener but Stafford and Anderson make their presence felt, especially Terell. Stafford certainly is in the top five of present day trumpeters as to fire, power and range. His solo on the opening track is awesome. Danton Boller has a nice bass solo before the horns return to take the tune out.

La Rosita follows and is given a tender reading with Wallace approaching “Bean” in giving a full-blooded rendition. Ray Anderson blends well with Wallace here and the two altos have their time onstage before Wallace emerges from the pack with a bit of Hawkins honking. Bean and the Boys has features for most of the frontline as well as much playing in unison. Baritonist Schroeder has a Pepper Adams toned solo and Alvin Queen’s presence is strongly felt.

Next Fats Waller’s Honeysuckle Rose provides Donald Vega with some great piano blues lines. The tune’s early tenderness gives way to some heavy blowing and rare solo time for the two altos as well as more great bari work by Schroeder. Body and Soul follows, and, of course, is a feature for Wallace. Bennie brings much of the passion that Hawkins was noted for on his signature tune. All of the versions of this song will always start with Hawkins as the premiere standard that all others will be judged by.

The Hawkins tribute ends with a boisterous version of Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho and at 16:40, each one in the band can fight a bit of the battle. Special mention among the multitude of solos goes to Ray Anderson, and the great Alvin Queen on drums.

For a live recording the mixing and mastering is first rate. Coleman’s daughter, Colette, gives special kudos to Wallace in the liner notes and they are well deserved. This CD would be a welcome introduction to the music of Coleman Hawkins for younger jazz fans. They can then go out and purchase some of Hawkins’ own discography to hear the master himself.

Tracklist: Disorder at the Border, La Rosita, Bean and the Boys, Honeysuckle Rose, Body and Soul, Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho

– Jeff Krow

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