Coleman Hawkins

2020 Hall of Fame Inductee

Coleman Hawkins attended THS around 1920, a saxophonist. Born in 1904 in St. Joseph MO, he began studying piano at age 5, cello at age 7 and the tenor saxophone at age 9. By age 14, he was playing saxophone around eastern Kansas, mostly in Kansas City. He performed with the Fletcher Henderson Big Band for 10 years in New York, jamming with jazz greats including Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman. He toured Europe and recorded for the Keynote, Savoy, and Apollo labels. He was the leader on what is considered to have been the first ever bebop recording session on Feb. 16, 1944, including Dizzy Gillespie, Don Byas, Clyde Har, Oscar Pettiford, and Max Roach. His hit song, “Body and Soul,” is an outpouring of irregular, double-timed melodies that became one of the most imitated of all jazz solos. He died in 1969. He didn’t graduate from high school but is being awarded an honorary diploma from current THS principal Rebecca Morrisey.