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Hank Mobley….exploring his music

Hank Mobley – Tenor Saxophone – Composer 

 (July 7, 1930 – May 30, 1986)


I first discovered the saxophone of Hank Mobley one night in 2014 when I was exploring some jazz. That night I explored the music of Blue Mitchell, Wynton Kelly and Hank Mobley. One that night Hank Mobley’s album Soul Station was my favorite of the night!! You can read about it in- A Jazzy Night with Music from Blue, Wynton and Hank and friends!! Here’s some background information about Hank Mobley from Wikipedia:

Henry “Hank” Mobley (July 7, 1930 – May 30, 1986) was an American hard bop and soul jazz tenor saxophonist and composer. Mobley was described by Leonard Feather as the “middleweight champion of the tenor saxophone”, a metaphor used to describe his tone, that was neither as aggressive as John Coltrane nor as mellow as Stan Getz, and his style that was laid-back, subtle and melodic, especially in contrast with players like Sonny Rollins and Coltrane. The critic Stacia Proefrock claimed he is “one of the most underrated musicians of the bop era.”

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Between his 1955 debut album titled The Hank Mobley Quartet and 1972’s album Breakthrough Mobley recorded 30 albums as a leader and many more as a sideman for :Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Kenny Burrell, Donald Byrd, Sonny Clark, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Kenny Dorham, Kenny Drew,Art Farmer, Curtis Fuller, Dizzy Gillespie, Grant Green, Johnny Griffin, Freddie Hubbard,J. J. Johnson, Elvin Jones, Philly Joe Jones,Lee Morgan,Dizzy Reece,Freddie Roach, Rita Reyes,Max Roach, and Archie Shepp,Horace Silver, Jimmy Smith, and Julius Watkins!!

This morning I listened to a few of the tracks from the Hank Mobley Quintet one of Mobley’s eight albums that he released in 1957! (1 on Prestige and 7 on Blue Note) The album was recorded in March of 1957 in the Van Gelder studio and featured a stellar line-up including: Art Farmer – trumpet, Horace Silver – piano, Doug Watkins – bass and Art Blakey – drum. It doesn’t get much better than that!

This afternoon I delved into a little more of Hank Mobley’s music and decided to listen to Peckin’ Time. I was going to do some reading and I put it on without looking at the album cover But the two things that stood out to me immediately, were the great trumpet and the equally as great piano! After listening to several tracks, I went to AllMusic and read the following in a review by Steve Leggett….

Peckin' Time - Hank Mobley….The Peckin’ Time session was recorded February 9, 1958 (the LP was issued a year later) and came in the midst of what was a period of whirlwind creativity for Mobley, who recorded work for the Savoy and Prestige imprints as well as six full albums for Blue Note (two were never released — it was not that uncommon for Blue Note to stockpile sessions at the time) in a little more than a year’s time (later Blue Note albums like Soul Station and Roll Call were still well in the future). For this session, Mobley found himself working with a young Lee Morgan on trumpet and in front of a fluid rhythm section that included pianist Wynton Kelly, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Charlie Persip, and it’s solid stuff, bright and always energetic. All but one of the tracks, a rendering of Kurt Weill’s “Speak Low,” were written by Mobley, and again, his hidden strength was always his writing, and it should probably come as no surprise that the best two tracks here, the title tune “Peckin’ Time” and the wonderful “Stretchin’ Out,” were both penned by Mobley. It all adds up to a fine program, and if Mobley didn’t push the envelope a whole lot, his lyrical and economical playing was always appropriate and graceful, and that’s certainly the case here….Full Review.

Now I know why those two instruments stood out Lee Morgan and Wynton Kelly!! Then I took a closer look at the album cover which says Hank Mobley-Lee Morgan!  Anyway, this is one damn good album, so check it out! Along with anything else by Hank Mobley that you can get your hands on!!

Here’s the title track “Peckin’ Time” from Peckin’ Time by Hank Mobley! And Happy Birthday, Hank Mobley, wherever you are!!