Poor Hank Mobley: overlooked and under appreciated in his lifetime not only as a tenor player, but also as a composer, as this '68 reissue testifies. While none of these originals have caught on through the years, Hi Voltage
makes a strong case for a revisit of Mobley's songbook.
With an all-star frontline (Jackie McLean and Blue Mitchell), Mobley takes the band through a set of advanced hard bop ("Two and One"), sophisticated samba ("Bossa De Luxe"), and down and dirty boogaloo ("Flirty Gerty"). Throughout each piece, the passionate rhythm section of Blue Note regulars (John Hicks, Bob Cranshaw, and Billy Higgins) drives along like a '69 Barracuda. With improved sound via 24-bit remastering, Higgins' joyful and precise drumwork is clearer than ever, and much more easily appreciated.
Mobley's tone by this time had undergone a bit of a change. Except for his work on ballads (as on the lovely "No More Goodbys"), his tone is a bit more jagged, and his lines are more clipped than before. Once termed "the middleweight champ of the tenor," he sounds as if he was trying to beef up and move up a class. Teamed up with an ultra-bright McLean, Mobley is trying to roughen up his smooth edges, and it doesn't always work.
Still, it was almost genetically impossible for Mobley to put out any recording that was less than interesting, and this one has more than enough moments to cast a spotlight on an overlooked genius.
Personnel: Hank Mobley: tenor saxophone; Blue Mitchell: trumpet; Jackie McLean: alto saxophone;
John Hicks: piano; Bob Cranshaw: bass; Billy Higgins: drums.