Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Hank Mobley's Sweet Tenor
Hank Mobley is one more tenor whose blessing was also his curse: he played with Miles on a number of extraordinary recordings. That's a blessing to be sure, because any certified jazz nerd will know your name. It's a bit of a curse as well, because no one will ever quite forgive you for not being John Coltrane. Well, maybe they forgave Wayne Shorter, but that just tells you how hard the curse is to break. Anyway, Mobley plays on Miles Live at the Blackhawk, one of the finest box sets I own. I just don't see how anyone could say that his work there represents a loss.
Mobley also recorded Soul Station, his magnum opus and certainly one of the classic modern jazz documents. This week I got a hold of Workout and Another Workout. Mobley could have spent a few dollars hiring an adman to name his albums. All three recordings feature Paul Chambers on bass and Wynton Kelly on piano. That's a solid, blues based trio there. Soul Station has Art Blakey on drums. Workout has Philly Joe Jones on drums, which is one awesome rhythm section. Grant Green also plays guitar. Workout was recorded in March of 1961. The material on Another Workout was recorded the following December, minus Green's guitar.
I have a great fondness for the swinging blues bop that was Mobley's great gift. It's just plain happy music, full of the joy of life. Here is a sample:
And dig dis sample for comparison from the great work: