The mists of time have a way of obscuring the motives behind people's decisions. What were they thinking?" and It must have seemed like a good idea at the time" must be among the most universal human sentiments. In the music business, a session gets recorded, and often it gets released, but occasionally it doesn't. Sometimes a tape sits on a shelf collecting dust for fifty years, leaving later-day musical archeologists to ponder why. Maybe that session gets cut up, or it vanishes into obscurity. Occasionally we get lucky: someone remembers that it's there and makes the effort to release ...read more
Hank Mobley Hank Mobley Blue Note / Music Matters 2009 (1958)
Since round about fall 2007, Music Matters has been in the business of releasing classic Blue Note records from the 1950s and 1960s, many currently unavailable on CD, on 180-gram vinyl pressings made at 45-rpm (necessitating a two-disk format). The idea is to provide jazz enthusiasts with archival-quality editions of these historic and musically vital sessions. They include a renewed focus on the visual through exquisitely crafted, heavy-duty gatefold album covers that preserve the original artwork and add new session photos--printed ...read more
Workout: The Music of Hank Mobley Derek Ansell Hardcover; 162 pages ISBN: 978 09550908-8-2 Northway Books 2008
As a tenor saxophonist, Hank Mobley committed the cardinal sin of not adhering to any established stylistic aesthetic, for all of his association with the hard bop idiom. Author Derek Ansell rightly makes much of this in his book, the first to be devoted to Mobley. For if jazz is an art form in which individuality is valued, then Mobley is an example of how this is sometimes not the case. ...read more
Count yourself fortunate to get your hands on this session, originally released on Blue Note, and not simply for the incredibly hip photo of Mobley on the cover (though I'll admit that's what initially hooked me). On this Toshiba EMI International reissue, the liner notes are in Japanese, the audio is merely good" (undoubtedly a Van Gelder remastering would provide more presence to both piano and drums), and the front line is probably unknown to many listeners. But in terms of the program, and the execution by the ensemble, as well as the performances of individual soloists, this eponymously titled ...read more
Hank Mobley Another Workout Blue Note 2006 (1961/1985)
I can scarcely remember the last time an anticipated new" release has afforded as much immediate pleasure as this one. Go with a single horn player--arguably the most melodically fertile tenor saxophonist of his time--and give him the support of a rhythm section once cherry-picked by Miles Davis. The result is not merely predictable excellence but music that's frequently as surprising as it is satisfying. You may choose to view this session as Mobley's Workout (Blue Note, 1961) minus Grant Green, but to my ears it's ...read more
Hank Mobley spent most of 1964 banged up for drug offences. The year of the Beatles' US breakthrough, which sounded the final death knell for hard bop as a mainline music of inner city youth, happened beyond Mobley's eyes and ears. Is it too fanciful to suppose he barely noticed it happening?
Probably yes. But it would explain the headlong vigour and take-no-prisoners confidence of 1965's Dippin'. The album starts with an explosive, declarative drum roll from Billy Higgins before charging straight into the sanctified up-tempo funk of The Dip," and thereafter only cools the temperature once, for the porcelain ...read more
Miles Davis dissed him, Leonard Feather called him the middleweight champion, and most people thought that John Coltrane outshone him. Because of these and a few other real or imagined slings and arrows, a kind of victim support group vibe has gathered around Hank Mobley in recent years. He's in danger of going down in history as a tragic figure.
But hey! Here's another perspective to consider. Mobley recorded an astonishing 25 albums as a leader or co-leader for Blue Note (not even Grant Green comes close), was featured on around another 35 Blue Notes as a sideman, and made ...read more