195

Hank Mobley: Hi Voltage

By

Sign in to view read count
Hank Mobley: Hi Voltage I'm one of those listeners so addicted to the blues-drenched, butterscotch-smooth sound of Hank Mobley's tenor that I can scarcely last a week without playing one of his recordings. The newly reissued Hi Voltage, unfortunately, turns out to be a negligible session by the "middleweight champion" of the tenor saxophone.

When the recording was made in the late sixties, the lyrical style associated with Mobley was falling out of favor, so he elected to try for a "harder and hipper" ensemble sound, suggestive of the Jazz Crusaders or Wayne Shorter's Speak No Evil.

The problem is that the extra horns (Blue Mitchell and Jackie McLean) drastically limit Mobley's solo time, and the all-original program includes none of the leader's best compositional efforts. With the exception of "No Goodbyes"—a subtle, nuanced ballad—the tunes are forgettable, spare heads and blues-based riffs. "Advance Notion" features an inventive variation on a simple idea along with solid contributions by all the principals. But the remaining tunes are played over funk/rock rhythms and end with engineered fade-outs (a sure sign of flagging compositional inspiration). The sum result is pretty much a "period piece" of little artistic consequence and, sadly, most likely of little profit to the underappreciated tenor giant.

Several years after this date I caught Mobley live with Gene Ammons at the Brown Shoe in Chicago. He was so disoriented and incoherent (he had reportedly lost two horns and was playing on a borrowed instrument held together by string) that we could only breathe a collective sigh of relief when Jug mercifully ushered him off stage and finished the set as the sole tenor. This late Blue Note recording session, despite demonstrating that Mobley's chops were still intact, reflects the beginning of his increasingly desperate attempts to find an audience before becoming a non-factor by the mid-seventies.

To hear why Mobley is one of the most melodically inventive and least formulaic improvisers (and check out that unforced, inimitable sound!), start with earlier Blue Note discs such as Soul Station and Work Out. Or listen to the Miles Davis Blackhawk set on Columbia. The man had so much to offer, and on his best recordings he's not afraid to let it all hang out.


Track Listing: 1. High Voltage; 2. Two And One; 3. No More Goodbyes; 4. Advance Notion; 5. Bossa De Luxe; 6. Flirty Gerty.

Personnel: Hank Mobley, tenor saxophone; Jackie McLean, alto saxophone; Blue Mitchell, trumpet; John Hicks, piano; Bob Cranshaw, bass; Billy Higgins, drums.

Title: Hi Voltage | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Blue Note Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read 90 Going On Amazing CD/LP/Track Review 90 Going On Amazing
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 21, 2017
Read Let There Be Life, Love and Laughter CD/LP/Track Review Let There Be Life, Love and Laughter
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: August 21, 2017
Read L.O.T.U.S. CD/LP/Track Review L.O.T.U.S.
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 21, 2017
Read Art in the Age of Automation CD/LP/Track Review Art in the Age of Automation
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 21, 2017
Read Screen Sounds CD/LP/Track Review Screen Sounds
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Rediscovered Ellington CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 20, 2017
Read "The Harry Warren Song Book" CD/LP/Track Review The Harry Warren Song Book
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 31, 2017
Read "The Sparrow" CD/LP/Track Review The Sparrow
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: September 15, 2016
Read "Organ Monk, The Breathe Suite" CD/LP/Track Review Organ Monk, The Breathe Suite
by Jerome Wilson
Published: June 10, 2017
Read "Nor Sea, nor Land, nor Salty Waves" CD/LP/Track Review Nor Sea, nor Land, nor Salty Waves
by Duncan Heining
Published: April 30, 2017
Read "Words And Music" CD/LP/Track Review Words And Music
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 30, 2017
Read "Life. Love. Flesh. Blood." CD/LP/Track Review Life. Love. Flesh. Blood.
by Doug Collette
Published: July 1, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.