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” data-original-title title>Coleman Hawkins. Afterwards the player was asked by his friend whether he had enjoyed the experience. “It was OK,” he said, “but Coleman Hawkins scared the shit out of me.” His friend replied, “Coleman Hawkins is meant to scare the shit out of you.”

Hawkins did his shit scaring on two fronts: as a technically virtuosic saxophonist and as a master navigator of the chord progressions which were the harmonic basis of the show tunes and standards that comprised the repertoire of jazz musicians of his era. But during Hawkins’ final years, in the late 1960s, technical proficiency and mastering the changes were no longer de rigueur. So called “energy players” got by on emotional intensity; other, “legit” musicians exchanged harmonic progressions for modes, which in effect meant playing just one chord, maybe two, throughout a piece.

Of course, the changes never went away. But in 2024 they have once more been moved aside by musicians who prefer to roam freely through modes rather than adhere to pre-determined route maps. Think of much of the London underground jazz scene or the Chicago one of the late, great

Jaimie Branch
Jaimie Branch

1983 – 2022

. Other musicians still favour the changes. Two of them are the Swiss tenor saxophonist

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