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The Anatomy of Improvisation
saxophonist now offers a style that has mellowed in tone and acquired a far higher degree of rhythmic and harmonic finesse. Platinum Love, recorded in 1949, reflects the changes wrought in Hawkins during the past ten or fifteen years. A slow, melodic theme of his own, this is played at 26 measures per minute. Linking the styles of two eras, Hawkins combines traditional and modern tendencies. The rococo jazz roots can be heard in the warm tone and vibrato of the half notes held in Measures 2, 5, 7,13,16, in the swing-era style of the triplets in 9, the occasional retention of the dotted-eighth-and-sixteenth technique as in 11. The modern elements appear in Measure 2 (the flatted fifth used against the C Sharp 7th), in 8 (the F chord implied before the E 7th), and in 14 and 15 (the double-times sixteenth notes).
Paradoxically, though his work has undergone more modification in the direction of contemporary usages, Hawkins' style today is less appreciated and less imitated than that of Lester Young, who rose to prominence much later but whose musical character lost more than it gained in the postwar jazz cycle. The Young solo shown is a chorus from The Opener, a medium-fast blues (on the original Jazz at the Philharmonic concert disc it followed a trombone solo by Tommy Turk; there was one intervening 12-measure chorus of which applause covered the first four and Lester played the remaining eight measures). Lester's laconic statements find much of their impetus in the exact quality of each note—in the slight wavering of the G, the staccato D, the slight slur into the E Flat—and in the sense of carefully built tension: notice how Measures 3-4 become an extension-repetition of 1-2, leading up to the "blue seventh" (B Flat), which like the corresponding G in the original statement of the phrase is played with a suggestion of vibrato. Measure 7 is a typical Young construction—the one-beat pause erupting into a rising triplet and subsiding into a long-held note (in this instance a major seventh, an interval not conventionally found at this stage of the blues progressions before Young's time). The major seventh feeling is carried into the eighth bar, but the use of a B Flat suggests either the flatted ninth of an A 7th or the fifth of a minor seventh progression in which the patterns for Measures 8-9 would be E Mi 7, E Flat Mi 7, D Mi 7—a downward chromatic sequence