The historic music contained in this album has been compiled from three separate original releases in the Jazz Showcase series that was directed by the famed John Hammond for Vanguard Records in the mid fifties. For a fuller summation of how this came about, please read Ace Records website notes for the Count Basie Bunch's “Too Marvelous For Words” (VCD 79601), though it should also be noted that this CD's notes will also give you chapter and verse of the great story. Suffice to say that the link between John Hammond and Vanguard Records led to some of the very finest recorded jazz, and Ace are extremely proud to keep these wonderful works in catalogue.
Coleman Hawkins is generally accepted to have been one of the very best tenor sax players there ever was. Born in 1904, he led his own band at age eleven and went on to make many recordings over the ensuing decades. By the fifties, he was an imposing presence awing others by his history and often gruff and unpredictable behaviour. Working with Sir Charles Thompson, several years his junior, was the case of the younger man providing an unobtrusive framework to wrap around Coleman's playing for the five tracks here that include Hawkins in the band. They are drawn from the 1955 Jazz Showcase release “Sir Charles Thompson and His Band Featuring Coleman Hawkins”. Another four tracks come from 1956's “Sir Charles Thompson Trio”, while the balance are from “Sir Charles Thompson Sextet”. This latter work from January 1954 was one of the first sessions that Hammond produced for Vanguard after making the link with them just a couple of months before.
Most notable on these tracks, aside from the quality and warmth of the playing, is the way that the musicians seem to urge each other to greater heights. Listen, for instance, to Benny Morton's fine trombone solo on ‘Dynaflow’ that spurs Hawkins to retaliate with a great tenor break, and then have Emmett Berry's trumpet join the fray attempting to have the last word. Another trumpet break that grabs the ears is Joe Newman's hard and insistent solo on the title track ‘For The Ears’. All the way through the players join in both competition and mutual respect, with tracks like ‘Oh Joe!’ showing how then can at times be more laid back and swing gently along together. All of this is a tribute to Sir Charles Thompson's leading from behind the piano: he knew just when to make the ensemble work as a cool unit, or when to allow room for a soloist to let rip. It's a special talent that can feel when to change from one to the other.
Once again the accompanying notes from Samuel Charters tell a full and satisfying story to both the hardcore fan and for newcomers, making this an essential purchase for collectors and more casual fans alike.