Recent Articles

MY BLUE NOTE OBSESSION

Hank Mobley and his All Stars – Blue Note 1544

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I think I've hit a wall. I love hard bop. I love Blue Note. But all of a sudden, the thrill is gone. This week, I'm listening to Hank Mobley and his All Stars, a 1957 album that could never be accused of false advertising. This truly is an all-star hard bop band: Hank Mobley on tenor, Milt Jackson on vibes, Horace Silver on piano, Art Blakey on drums and Doug Watkins on bass. This is, ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Hank Mobley: The Feelin's Good

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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, ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Hank Mobley: Hank Mobley (On Wax)

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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 ...

BOOK REVIEWS

Workout: The Music of Hank Mobley

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Hank Mobley: Hank Mobley

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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 ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Hank Mobley: Another Workout

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Hank Mobley: Dippin'

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Hank Mobley: Workout

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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 ...



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