All About Jazz

Home » Articles » My Blue Note Obsession

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

18

Hank Mobley: Hank Mobley: Soul Station - 1960

Marc Davis By

Sign in to view read count
Soul Station throws the spotlight on Mobley in a way that other albums didn’t. He's the only horn in the band.
Hank Mobley is a mystery to me.

On the one hand, I mostly love his relaxed style of bop. Sometimes it's round and smooth, sometimes rock hard, sometimes full of soul and funk. What's not to like?

On the other hand, the same relaxed style can sometimes seem lazy. Critics sure thought so. At his peak in the 1950s and '60s, Mobley was pretty widely ignored by critics. His playing seemed effortless and lacking innovation. At a time when John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins were setting the world on fire, Mobley seemed pretty tame.

Finally, Mobley was ridiculously prolific. Over a 10-year span, from 1955 to '65, he recorded 23 albums as a leader, nearly all for Blue Note. He was also a sideman on dozens of other records led by the biggest names in jazz. Is it possible for a musician to be over-recorded? Hank Mobley was.

And yet, if there is much Mobley to hear, there is also much Mobley to love. Soul Station is arguably the most lovable.

This is hard bop at its best. Blue Note produced lots of hard bop gems, and Soul Station ranks among the tops. It starts with a first-rate band: Mobley on tenor, Wynton Kelly on piano, Art Blakey on drums and Paul Chambers on bass. This is a quintessential Blue Note bop quartet.

Soul Station throws the spotlight on Mobley in a way that other albums didn't. For starters, he is the only horn in the band, so he's not sharing the stage with a trumpet, as he often did. Instead, it's almost entirely Mobley and Kelly, trading toe-tapping solos.

Second, Soul Station is a showcase for Mobley's songwriting talents. Four of the six cuts are Mobley originals. All are infectious. "This I Dig You" is standard, hard-charging bop. "Dig Dis" is all smoke and noir and blues. "Split Feelin's" starts with a Latin-ish beat, switches to standard bop, then back again. It's clever and catchy. Finally, the title cut, as the name implies, is a relaxed blues full of soul. The remaining numbers are standards.

Critics may have slighted Mobley, but he's a favorite among modern Blue Note fans. No wonder. In a roster that included lots of soulful and bluesy performers, Mobley may have been the bluesiest and soulfulest of all.

From 1957 to 1961, Mobley had an incredible run of eight or nine fantastic hard bop gems. All are terrific, but to my ears, Soul Station is the shiniest of them all.

Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

Availability: Easy to find

Cost: Just $3 used on Amazon

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read My Fats Waller Obsession: Why Do We Collect Music? My Blue Note Obsession
My Fats Waller Obsession: Why Do We Collect Music?
by Marc Davis
Published: May 31, 2017
Read Ike Quebec: Blue & Sentimental - 1962 My Blue Note Obsession
Ike Quebec: Blue & Sentimental - 1962
by Marc Davis
Published: May 14, 2017
Read Jack Wilson: Something Personal – 1966 My Blue Note Obsession
Jack Wilson: Something Personal – 1966
by Marc Davis
Published: May 1, 2017
Read Ronnie Foster: Two Headed Freap – 1973 My Blue Note Obsession
Ronnie Foster: Two Headed Freap – 1973
by Marc Davis
Published: April 18, 2017
Read Bud Powell: The Scene Changes - 1958 My Blue Note Obsession
Bud Powell: The Scene Changes - 1958
by Marc Davis
Published: April 4, 2017
Read Walter Davis Jr.: Davis Cup - 1959 My Blue Note Obsession
Walter Davis Jr.: Davis Cup - 1959
by Marc Davis
Published: March 21, 2017
Read "Ike Quebec: Blue & Sentimental - 1962" My Blue Note Obsession Ike Quebec: Blue & Sentimental - 1962
by Marc Davis
Published: May 14, 2017
Read "Jack Wilson: Something Personal – 1966" My Blue Note Obsession Jack Wilson: Something Personal – 1966
by Marc Davis
Published: May 1, 2017
Read "My Fats Waller Obsession: Why Do We Collect Music?" My Blue Note Obsession My Fats Waller Obsession: Why Do We Collect Music?
by Marc Davis
Published: May 31, 2017
Read "Monterey Jazz Festival 2017" In Pictures Monterey Jazz Festival 2017
by Gregory Savage
Published: September 22, 2017
Read "Mary Fahl at The Cutting Room" Live Reviews Mary Fahl at The Cutting Room
by Tyran Grillo
Published: November 11, 2017
Read "The Comet Is Coming at Black Box" Live Reviews The Comet Is Coming at Black Box
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 8, 2017
Read "Seven Women 2018 – Part II" Bailey's Bundles Seven Women 2018 – Part II
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 10, 2018
Read "Joao Barradas: A New Place For The Accordion In Jazz?" Multiple Reviews Joao Barradas: A New Place For The Accordion In Jazz?
by Chris Mosey
Published: February 2, 2018