Unissued Coleman Hawkins in Switzerland

While master tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins was living in Europe in the 1930s he also spend some time in Switzerland where he played with different swiss bands who enthusiatically took the chance to play with one of the originators of a music they were working hard to master, especially in regard to the subtle rhythmic relationships necessary to create a swinging feeling.

Coleman Hawkins in Switzerland, unidentified location. The man on the right is alto saxophonist Glyn Paque, who came to Europe with Bobby Martin’s band in 1937. Photograph by André Berner.

From September 1936 until early 1937 on Coleman Hawkins was appearing with the band of drummer Morris Einhorn at the “Mac Mahon” in Geneva – a “plush” club according to John Chilton’s book The Song Of The Hawk) . When in 1997 the 4CD box set “Jazz in Switzerland 1930–1975” appeared, it became known that recordings of  Coleman Hawkins with “Morris and his Music” – as Einhorn called his band – still exist.

All in all seven tracks survived, only three of which were issued on the “Jazz in Switzerland” box set (denoted with a “*” in the list below)

Limehouse Blues*
Queer Notions
Anything For You*
I’m In The Mood For Love*
Between The Devil ANd The Deep Blue Sea
Unidentified Tune

The personnel for these recordings is: Gustave “Gugu” Dupuis (tp), Max Oberle (cl), Coleman Hawkins (ts), René Van Dyke (p), Roger Mazuit (b), Morris Einhorn (dr, ldr), Annie Xhofleer (voc) .

Not all of the titles are complete and some of them are severely damaged.
And there is a little confusion about the source for these recordings: The booklet of the “Jazz In Switzerland” – Otto Flückiger was responsible for this part of the booklet , the source is given as being from an “air shot from Club Mac Mahon, Oct. 15 1936”. But the notes to CD with the complete Einhorn/Hawkins material that I found in Otto’s archive gives “recorded live at Club ‘Mac Mahon’ and Radio Studio, Geneva, October 15, 1936 and early 1937” as the date(s).

One might be tempted to think then, that a part of the tracks comes from the club and the other from the radio studio. But the sound and the ambiance is about the same on all of the known tracks, so I would say they sound as if they were recorded under the same circumstances. Strangely enough the CD in Otto’s archives starts with a radio announcer saying (in french): “You have heard a concert given by the orchestra of the Mac Mahon dancing [a “dancing is a special kind of club], Morris and his Swing Music …”, so it is well possible that the original sequence of tracks did not survive the transfer to CD.

So now for some music:

Here  is “Queer Notions”, Hawkins’ composition that he had recorded with Fletcher Henderson’s orchestra four years earlier:

And here are Morris and his Music featuring Coleman Hawkins playing “Georgia”

8 Responses to “Unissued Coleman Hawkins in Switzerland”

  1. I take this as a great Christmas gift. Many thanks for Hawk!

  2. Amazing discovery. Every new Hawk is a real treasure. Thanks a million!

  3. WOW! This is FANTASTIC! Don’t think there is another version of “Queer Notions” which makes this even more amazing. Same arrangement as the Henderson group. Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful music!

  4. Thanks for hipping me to this Jim but this is a “scaled down” version of “Notions”!! The Henderson’s have a trumpet solo & shout choruses.. Long Live Hawk!!

  5. […] Coleman Hawkins, 1936 (?), Switzerland. Yes, there’s audio. […]

  6. […] Coleman Hawkins, 1936 (?), Switzerland. Yes, there’s audio. […]

  7. […] Coleman Hawkins, 1936 (?), Switzerland. Yes, there’s audio. […]

  8. […] After the Don Redman concerts in autumn 1946 nothing much happened in Switzerland in regard to modern jazz directly from the USA. One of the most important events in this context was Coleman Hawkin’s tour through several european countries in late 1949 and early 1950, among them Switzerland, where Hawkins had spent some time during the 1930s. […]

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