Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!


Hank Mobley: Hank Mobley: Hank Mobley (On Wax)

Matt Marshall By

Sign in to view read count
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 on acid-free photo paper—on the inside fold.

All this may sound like simple indulgence—and in a way it is. But there is little doubt that vinyl presents a sound distinct from digital. And while the argument may forever rage over whether that distinction is superior to the sound on CD, the Music Matters pressings tilt the scale decidedly in favor of the wax (at least when cut with this kind of supreme care at 45-rpm).

Tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley's self-titled 1958 release is a fine example of what you can expect. (In fact, as a mono recording, it may offer the least you can expect. Ron Rambach and his crew at Music Matters claim the sound of the later Blue Note stereo recordings is rendered beyond compare through their production process.) For starters, this Mobley album is currently available on CD only as a Japanese import. Additionally, it features in trumpeter Bill Hardman and saxophonist Curtis Porter two largely unsung cats from the late 1950s. The music itself is classic hard bop, fashioned by one of the true masters of the form.

The opening track, "Mighty Moe and Joe," is a Porter original based on an almost mockish Chinese-flavored theme. But it's projected with the bright metal force you'd expect from Mobley. The vinyl difference is immediately evident in the group's full, warm sound and, particularly, in the deep lows sprung from Paul Chambers bass. Additionally, there's a real separation between the instruments, in contrast to the sometimes antiseptic, uber-separation on CDs that emphasizes the technical over the human.

The difference in Mobley's and Porter's sound and soloing style is also immediately discernable. Porter is first up, and he slashes and dashes through a forward-looking, raspy statement that cuts into the music at halting, aggressive angles. Mobley, on the other hand, courses hills and valleys with a deep, fluid roll. Hardman's bright trumpet solo divides the two, and distinguished sideman Sonny Clark bangs in with a reliably solid run on the piano, his right hand seeming to extend beyond the speakers as it trills up to the keyboard's high end. Chambers then leads the piece back to its theme with a brief bowed-bass solo that, like Porter's statement, intimates the more contemplative post-bop approach around the musical corner.

Mobley strikes a rather forlorn mood on side two. His horn is alive and breathy on the opening solo of the ballad "Falling In Love With Love," but when it returns later in the tune, it projects from a heart decidedly more weary and desperate. Even on the driving Milt Jackson number "Bags' Groove," Mobley sounds dark and argumentative, like the misanthropic partygoer who can't stop nitpicking the hors d'oeuvres.

The second disk opens with Hardman's spirited trumpet solo on Mobley's "Double Exposure." Mobley and Porter then resume their rolling/slashing dual, backed by comping from Clark that truly sounds a couple of feet deeper in the mix. Later, Art Taylor bursts in with a solo that allows you to sense the physical range of his drum set. (The full-bodied, three-dimensional sound on this track alone might have you considering a lawsuit against the marketers who sold us on digital back in the 1980s.) The closer on side four, "News," while also acoustically resplendent, sounds a little like yesterday's story after the wildfire spit, crackle and blow of its predecessor on side three. Nevertheless, the album as a whole embodies a musical indulgence that never felt so essential.

Tracks: Disc One: Mighty Moe And Joe; Falling In Love With Love; Bags' Groove. Disc Two: Double Exposure; News.

Personnel: Bill Hardman: trumpet; Curtis Porter: alto and tenor sax; Hank Mobley: tenor sax; Sonny Clark: piano; Paul Chambers: bass; Art Taylor: drums.

Title: Hank Mobley: Hank Mobley (On Wax) | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Blue Note Records


Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Strange Days - 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition Extended Analysis Strange Days - 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: December 9, 2017
Read Trouble No More - The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981 Extended Analysis Trouble No More - The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981
by Doug Collette
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Love, Gloom, Cash, Love Extended Analysis Love, Gloom, Cash, Love
by Patrick Burnette
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Motel Shot: Expanded Edition Extended Analysis Motel Shot: Expanded Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: July 16, 2017
Read Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe  Edition Extended Analysis Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th...
by Doug Collette
Published: May 27, 2017
Read "Allan Holdsworth: The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever!" Extended Analysis Allan Holdsworth: The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever!
by John Kelman
Published: April 17, 2017
Read "Motel Shot: Expanded Edition" Extended Analysis Motel Shot: Expanded Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: July 16, 2017
Read "Jazz Is Phsh: He Never Spoke A Word" Extended Analysis Jazz Is Phsh: He Never Spoke A Word
by Doug Collette
Published: March 3, 2017
Read "Ella Fitzgerald: 100 Songs For A Centennial" Extended Analysis Ella Fitzgerald: 100 Songs For A Centennial
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: April 29, 2017
Read "Way Down Inside: Songs of Willie Dixon" Extended Analysis Way Down Inside: Songs of Willie Dixon
by Doug Collette
Published: February 18, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!