That Coleman Hawkins jumped on the jazz/bossa nova bandwagon craze initiated by Stan Getz in 1962 was a bit of a surprise to his fans, but that he was comfortable in the idiom should not be off-putting. Able to adapt to any style over his lengthy career, the legendary tenor saxophonist chose classic standards adapted to Brazilian rhythms, music from masters like Antonio Carlos Jobim and João Gilberto, and a Manny Albam original.
Producer Bob Thiele and music director Albam were strong in their resolve directing Hawkins to do this project, and the results are fairly predictable, especially considering that every single track is played in midtempo. The difference is the deployment of two guitarists in Barry Galbraith (lead) and Howard Collins (rhythm) split into separate stereo channels, with bassist Major Holley and no full kit drummer, although Eddie Locke with a minimal and stripped-down setup, Willie Rodriguez, and even Tommy Flanagan play small Latin percussion instruments.
Themes derived from nights in Rio such as the beautifully rendered title track and "One Note Samba" are quite typical, but "O Pato" (The Duck) has a component added on from Duke Ellington's "Take the 'A' Train," while the Hawkins original "Stumpy" is adapted into "Stumpy Bossa Nova," derived from Dizzy Gillespie's "Groovin' High" with a taste of "The Man I Love" tacked on at the end. Albam's "Samba Para Bean" is standardized cool with Locke's accents via brushes on closed hi-hat cymbals, while "I Remember You" is a completely unforced, pretty rendition of this well-worn standard. Gilberto's tribute to Luiz Bonfá, "Um Abraco No Bonfa," sports a guitar lead by Galbraith in a stretched-out frame. The curve ball is a somewhat weird crossbred samba take of "I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover," a truly corny song the band tried to make cool, only marginally succeeding. The simplified style of this album overall perfectly suited the amiable, good-natured, and laid-back Hawkins at a time when the world was somewhat in political turmoil regarding Caribbean nations and the role of South America in the emerging so-called Third World. He passed away seven years later, leaving a legacy as the most revered tenor saxophonist in jazz, and this very nice recording in his long discography, unique even unto itself.
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos
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