Text in englischer Sprache verfügbarOne of the Blue Note label's definitive hard bop artists, tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley remains somewhat underappreciated for his straightforward, swinging style. Any characterization of Mobley invariably begins with critic Leonard Feather's assertion that he was the "middleweight champion of the tenor saxophone," meaning that his tone wasn't as aggressive and thick as John Coltrane or Sonny Rollins, but neither was it as soft and cool as Stan Getz or Lester Young. Instead, Mobley's in-between, "round" (as he described it) sound was controlled and even, given over to subtlety rather than intense displays of emotion. Even if he lacked the galvanizing, mercurial qualities of the era's great tenor innovators, Mobley remained consistently solid throughout most of his recording career. His solo lines were full of intricate rhythmic patterns that were delivered with spot-on precision, and he was no slouch harmonically either. As a charter member of Horace Silver's Jazz Messengers, Mobley helped inaugurate the hard bop movement: jazz that balanced sophistication and soulfulness, complexity and earthy swing, and whose loose structure allowed for extended improvisations. As a solo artist, he began recording for Blue Note in the latter half of the '50s, and hit his peak in the first half of the '60s with hard bop cornerstones like Soul Station, No Room for Squares, and A Caddy for Daddy. Henry "Hank" Mobley was born on July 7, 1930, in Eastman, GA, and grew up mostly in Elizabeth, NJ. Several family members played piano and/or church organ, and Mobley himself learned piano as a child. He switched to the saxophone at age 16, initially modeling his style on players like Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, Don Byas, and Sonny Stitt. He soon started playing professionally in the area, and built enough of a reputation that trumpeter Clifford Brown recommended him for a job without having heard him play. That job was with Paul Gayten's Newark-based R&B band, which he joined in 1949, doubling as a composer. He departed in 1951 and joined the house band at a Newark nightclub, where he played with pianist Walter Davis, Jr. and backed some of the era's top jazz stars. That led to a job with Max Roach, who hired both Mobley and Davis after performing with them; they all recorded together in early 1953, at one of the earliest sessions to feature Roach as a leader. Meanwhile, Mobley continued to gig around his home area, playing with the likes of Milt Jackson, Tadd Dameron, and J.J. Johnson, among others; he also served two weeks in Duke Ellington's orchestra in 1953. Mobley spent much of 1954 performing and recording with Dizzy Gillespie. He left in September to join pianist Horace Silver's group, which evolved into a quintet co-led by Art Blakey and dubbed the Jazz Messengers. Their groundbreaking first album for Blue Note, 1955's Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers, was a landmark in the genesis of hard bop, with its sophisticated solos and bright, almost funky rhythms. Mobley led his first session for Blue Note, The Hank Mobley Quartet, in 1955, and recorded for Savoy and Prestige during 1956. In the middle of that year, the original lineup of the Jazz Messengers split, with Blakey keeping the name and Silver forming a new group. Mobley stayed with Silver until 1957, by which time he had begun to record prolifically as a leader for Blue Note, completing eight albums' worth of material over the next 16 months. Some of his best work, such as Hank Mobley and His All Stars and The Hank Mobley Quintet, was cut with a selection of old Messengers mates. Not all of his sessions were released at the time, but some began to appear as import reissues in the '80s. Often composing his own material, Mobley was beginning to truly hit his stride with 1958's Peckin' Time, when a worsening drug problem resulted in an arrest that took him off the scene for a year. Upon returning to music in 1959, Mobley oriented himself by rejoining Art Blakey in the Jazz Messengers for a short period. His comeback session as a leader was 1960's classic Soul Station, near-universally acknowledged as his greatest recorded moment. Mobley cut two more high-quality hard bop albums, Roll Call and Workout, over 1960-1961, as well as some other sessions that went unreleased at the time. In 1961, Mobley caught what looked to be a major break when he was hired to replace John Coltrane in Miles Davis' quintet. Unfortunately, the association was a stormy one; Mobley came under heavy criticism from the bandleader, and wound up leaving in 1962. He returned to solo recording with 1963's No Room for Squares, often tabbed as one of his best efforts, before drug and legal problems again put him out of commission during 1964. Energized and focused upon his return, Mobley recorded extensively during 1965, showcasing a slightly harder-edged tone and an acumen for tricky, modal-flavored originals that challenged his sidemen. At the same time, Dippin' found a funkier soul-jazz sound starting to creep into his work, an approach that reached its apex on the infectious A Caddy for Daddy later that year. Mobley recorded steadily for Blue Note through the '60s, offering slight variations on his approach, and continued to appear as a sideman on a generous number of the label's other releases (especially frequent collaborator Lee Morgan). 1966's A Slice of the Top found Mobley fronting a slightly larger band arranged by Duke Pearson, though it went unissued until 1979. After cutting the straightforward Third Season in 1967, Mobley embarked on a brief tour of Europe, where he performed with Slide Hampton. He returned to the U.S. to record the straight-ahead Far Away Lands and Hi Voltage that year, and tried his hand at commercially oriented jazz-funk on 1968's Reach Out. Afterward, he took Hampton's advice and returned to Europe, where he would remain for the next two years. 1969's The Flip was recorded in Paris, and Mobley returned to the States to lead his final session for Blue Note, Thinking of Home, in 1970 (it wasn't released until ten years later). He subsequently co-led a group with pianist Cedar Walton, which recorded the excellent Breakthrough in 1972. Sadly, that would prove to be Mobley's last major effort. Health problems forced him to retire in 1975, when he settled in Philadelphia. He was barely able to even play his horn for fear of rupturing a lung; by the dawn of the '80s, he was essentially an invalid. In 1986, he mustered up the energy to work on a limited basis with Duke Jordan; however, he died of pneumonia not long after, on May 30, 1986. During Mobley's heyday, most critics tended to compare him unfavorably to Sonny Rollins, or dismiss him for not being the innovator that Coltrane was. However, in the years that followed Mobley's death, Blue Note hard bop enjoyed a positive reappraisal; with it came a new appreciation for Mobley's highly developed talents as a composer and soloist, instead of a focus on his shortcomings.
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Jazz - Erschienen am 4. Februar 1965 | Blue Note Records
The Hank Mobley of the Turnaround album was a markedly different one from a few years earlier. This session issued in early 1965 was the product of two different sessions. The first was in March of 1963, immediately after Mobley left the Miles Davis band. Those recordings produced "East of the Village," possibly the greatest example of Mobley's "round tone" on record, and the other was "The Good Life," a ballad. The rest was recorded nearly two years later in February of 1965. The title cut was produced here -- an Alfred Lion answer to Lee Morgan's "Sidewinder," which was burning up the charts -- as well as the beautiful "Pat 'n' Chat," with "Straight Ahead" and "My Sin" rounding out the program. On the earlier material, Donald Byrd, Herbie Hancock, Butch Warren, and Philly Jo Jones helped Mobley out, and on the latter it was Freddie Hubbard, Barry Harris, Paul Chambers, and Billy Higgins. In each case, there were alumnus members of the Miles band Mobley had played in. The main thing about "East of the Village" is the striking difference between the gorgeous melding of Latin and post-bop, straight-ahead rhythms, and the easy, loping blues feel that is cheered on by Jones. This track contains one of Mobley's most memorable solos. On the title track and "Pat 'n' Chat," there are elongated blues structures; in the former -- it is an unusual 18 bar figure -- and in the latter, there is the major 44 bar pattern that sounds like a blues with a bridge when the AABA pattern is invoked. Here is the evolution of Mobley's tone in full flower, all but gone is the rounded, warm sound, and in its place is a shorter, declarative, bluesier tone with real bite that is perfect for pianists like Harris, who were used to the deeper funk of the Detroit sound. In all this is a solid date, despite its time lapse, and one that gives us a solid picture of the two Mobleys. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
Jazz - Erschienen am 23. Juni 1957 | Blue Note
Although his is a rather less charming sound than that of a John Coltrane or a Sonny Rollins, Hank Mobley is still a master of the tenor saxophone. The famous critic Leonard Feathers, the author of many album liner notes, would describe him "the middleweight champion of tenor sax". With daring solos, often of pleasing complexity, this Georgian who grew up in New Jersey was one of the great standard bearers for that unique hard bop that rang out on several Blue Note albums in the 50s and 60s. It was on this famous label that Mobley, a marathon runner of the recording studio, put out thirty records or more. On this record in particular, the then-27-year-old jazzman is accompanied by Bill Hardman on the trumpet, Curtis Porter on the saxophone, Sonny Clark on the piano, Paul Chambers on double bass, and Art Taylor on drums. A flawless session (as were almost all the Blue Note productions of that era), recorded in a single day (23 June 1957) throughout which Hank Mobley (one year on from leaving the Jazz Messengers, which he had founded with Horace Silver and Art Blakey) carefully ensures that his former bandmates stay focussed on a soothing swing. Across the following decade, with masterpieces like Soul Station (1960), Workout (1961), No Room For Squares (1963) and The Turnaround! (1965), Mobley took another step with an even more original and unique style and sidemen of quite a different calibre (Lee Morgan, Donald Byrd, Andrew Hill, Herbie Hancock, Philly Joe Jones). While we wait for more, this eponymous Hank Mobley and its superb sleeve make for a fine rediscovery. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz