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Hank Mobley – Three Classic Albums Plus

AVID AMSC 1215 [61:03 + 73:37]

 

 

 

Hank Mobley: The Jazz Message

There’ll Never Be Another You

Cattin’

Madelaine

When I Fall In Love

Hank Mobley (tenor sax): Donald Byrd (trumpet): Ronnie Ball (piano): Doug Watkins (bass): Kenny Clarke (piano)

Recorded February 1956

Hank Mobley: Mobley’s Message

Bouncing with Bud

52nd Street Theme

Minor Disturbance

Au Privave *

Little Girl Blue

Alternating Current

Hank Mobley (tenor sax): Donald Byrd (trumpet): Jackie Mclean (alto sax *): Barry Harris (piano): Doug Watkins (bass): Art Taylor (piano)

Recorded February 1956

Hank Mobley: 2nd Message

These Are The Things I Love

Message From The Border

Xlento

The Latest

I Should Care

Crazeology

Hank Mobley (tenor sax): Kenny Dorham (trumpet): Walter Bishop (piano): Doug Watkins (bass): Art Taylor (drums)

Recorded July 1956

Hank Mobley: Jazz Message No.2

Thad’s Blues *

Doug’s Minor B’Ok *

B for BB

Blues Number Two

Space Flight

Hank Mobley (tenor sax): Donald Byrd (trumpet) except Lee Morgan (trumpet*): Barry Harris (piano) except Hank Jones (piano*): Doug Watkins (bass): Art Taylor (drums) except Kenny Clarke (drums*)

Recorded July and November 1956

 

The focus is very tightly on Hank Mobley’s recordings made between February and November 1956. From this period Avid has taken four LPs, reprinting in characteristic style the original liner notes – even keeping the somewhat exotic typography – but sensibly, as the company does these days, grouping all discographical information at the front for ease of use.

Three of the LPs were Rudy van Gelder productions and the first of them features Mobley on one side of the LP which means we only get four tracks from The Jazz Message Of…as Mobley is absent on side two. Donald Byrd’s open brassy tone accompanies Mobley in the front line but things reach a peak when Mobley plays his own ballad Madelaine, where his tonal roundness and Hawkins-Webster influenced instincts elevate things significantly. Byrd’s best playing comes in When I Fall In Love; he’s not very creative but is straight-ahead and lyric. Opinion will always be divided about the van Gelder studios with some listeners finding his bass frequencies muddy but to me he had a fatal habit of under-miking pianists. Poor Ronnie Ball, then the most successful pianistic export from Britain to the US after Shearing and Victor Feldman, struggles badly to be heard.

Mobley’s Message sees Byrd back but apart from bassist Doug Watkins there’s a changed rhythm section. This time it’s pianist Barry Harris who gets the van Gelder treatment. Harris is a more facile and quick thinking - though less thoughtful - stylist than Ball. There are the usual stock trumpet-tenor exchanges, ensembles are solid and things adequate. It’s only when Jackie Mclean joins for one track, Charlie Parker’s Au Privave that the temperature heats up. Mobley the beautiful balladeer stars on Little Girl Blue. Second Message finds Byrd replaced by the clearly superior Kenny Dorham and the trades between him and Mobley are more bracing and athletic, Dorham’s tone clear and incisive. Walter Bishop, almost as backwardly balanced as Ball and Harris, doles out too many quotes in his solos. Jazz Message No.2 has a mixed personnel – Byrd on three tracks and Lee Morgan on two. Morgan plays with uncharacteristic frivolity and he’s outplayed on Thad’s Blues by Mobley. The album is largely standard blues-drenched but it’s good to hear Hank Jones on a couple of tracks.

The transfers are good and Mobley is seldom less than very good.

Jonathan Woolf




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