One more surprise from DJA, a complete never-before-heard performances by Hank Mobley, backed by Dutch players in three different sets taped live at the Bellevue theater in Amsterdam, at VARA studio in Hilversum and at the JazzClub B14 in Rotterdam. Mobley is accompanied by the brilliant pianist Pim Jacobs and drummer wizard Han Bennink in its only known collaboration to date.
Part of Blue Note's quality series of artist samplers, The Best of Hank Mobley surveys the great tenor saxophonist's prime stretch from 1955-1965. Originally overshadowed by the likes of Joe Henderson, Wayne Shorter, and, of course, Coltrane, Mobley nevertheless gained the respect of his peers, thanks to his richly fluid phrasing and smooth, caramel tone – in lieu of trying to impress you, he seduced you slowly from afar. And while one is advised to dive in directly with any one of his Blue Note discs – especially Soul Station, No Room for Squares, and A Slice of the Top – this ten-track overview still works well as a launching pad. Backed by a stellar array of "Blue Note" regulars like Lee Morgan, Curtis Fuller, Billy Higgins, Freddie Hubbard, and Horace Silver, Mobley ranges effortlessly from early hard bop favorites ("Funk in a Deep Freeze") to mature, solo-rich material from the mid-'60s ("The Turnaround"). In between, there are two stunning originals from his banner year of 1960 ("This I Dig of You," "Take Your Pick") and one of the best of his several bossa nova numbers ("Recado Bossa Nova").
Saxophonist Hank Mobley's 1956 date for Prestige, Mobley's Message, is an often overlooked gem of the era. Joining Mobley here is an all-star cast of musicians including trumpeter Donald Byrd, alto saxophonist Jackie McLean, pianist Barry Harris, bassist Doug Watkins, and drummer Art Taylor. Essentially a high-energy blowing session, the album features some stellar bop-oriented improvisation and is well worth seeking out.
Why any critic would think that Hank Mobley was at the end of his creative spark in 1963 – a commonly if stupidly held view among the eggheads who do this for a living – is ridiculous, as this fine session proves. By 1963, Mobley had undergone a transformation of tone. Replacing the scintillating airiness of his late-'50s sides was a harder, more strident, almost honking one, due in part to the influence of John Coltrane and in part to Mobley's deeper concentration on the expressing blues feeling in his trademark hard bop tunes. ~ AllMusic
Hank Mobley was a perfect artist for Blue Note in the 1960s. A distinctive but not dominant soloist, Mobley was also a very talented writer whose compositions avoided the predictable yet could often be quite melodic and soulful; his tricky originals consistently inspired the young all-stars in Blue Note's stable. For this CD, which is a straight reissue of a 1965 session, Mobley is joined by trumpeter Lee Morgan, trombonist Curtis Fuller, pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Bob Cranshaw, and drummer Billy Higgins (a typically remarkable Blue Note lineup) for the infectious title cut, three other lesser-known but superior originals, plus Wayne Shorter's "Venus Di Mildew." Recommended.
While major jazz record labels chase the latest crossover fad with borderline jazz content and ignore historical, significant, unissued jazz performances in their vaults, smaller labels like Uptown regularly surprise jazz fans with live recordings that few knew existed at all, such as this evening taped by jazz industry veteran Ozzie Cadena. Hank Mobley is heard leading a house band with pianist Walter Davis, Jr., drummer Charlie Persip, and the obscure bassist Jimmy Schenck, with trombonist Bennie Green as the guest for the week. These two sets recorded at The Piccadilly in Newark come from a single night in 1953, making them among Mobley's earliest known recordings.