Hank Mobley

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Henry "Hank" Mobley (born July 7, 1930 in Eastman , Georgia , † May 30, 1986 in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania ) was an American tenor saxophonist and composer of hard bop and soul jazz . With his melodic style of playing he influenced numerous musicians, such as Junior Cook , George Coleman and, to a certain extent, Joe Henderson . Between 1955 and 1970 he recorded a total of 25 albums under his own name for Blue Note Records .

According to Rolling Stone music magazine, Hank Mobley's self-titled album from 1957 with catalog number BLP 1568 is one of the “50 most valuable vinyl records in the world” . With an estimated US $ 6,250.00 for the original pressing, Hank Mobley ranks 16th on the list.

Live and act

Early years (1930-1954)

Mobley grew up in a musical family in Elizabeth , New Jersey , near Newark . Since almost all of the family members played the piano, it became Hanks' first instrument; however, he switched to the tenor saxophone at the age of 16. He was self-taught and learned, on the recommendation of his uncle, from the records Lester Young , Don Byas , Dexter Gordon and Sonny Stitt . Mobley had his first appearances in rhythm and blues bands, such as that of the pianist Paul Gayton (1949-51). The Gayton Band also played Cecil Payne , Clark Terry , Aaron Bell and Sam Woodyard , who came from the Duke Ellington Orchestra and brought Mobley to the Ellington Band for a short time in 1953 as a replacement for the sick Jimmy Hamilton ; however, Mobley cannot be heard as a soloist on recordings from this period.

Mobley made his debut as a jazz musician in the house band of a Newark nightclub. That job gave him the opportunity to play with Miles Davis , Dexter Gordon, Billie Holiday , Bud Powell and Lester Young. Max Roach engaged Mobley and Walter Davis Jr. after an engagement in this Newarker club and brought both to the New York clubs and enabled them in April 1953 to play in his sextet with Idrees Sulieman and Gigi Gryce at a recording date at Debut Records . Mobley then played in early 1954 with Tadd Dameron , Milt Jackson and JJ Johnson ; in the second half of the year he was a member of Dizzy Gillespie's band and took part in their sessions for Norman Granz ' Norgran label. In September 1954 he left the Gillespie band to work in the quartet of pianist Horace Silver , which performed at Minton's Playhouse ; a group that was completed by bassist Doug Watkins and drummer Arthur Edgehill and then later by Art Blakey .

The hard bop years (1954–1959)

On November 13, 1954, the first recording session for the Blue Note Records label took place, in which Mobley participated; he was to remain associated with this label for the next 14 years. The Horace Silver Quartet was the nucleus of the Jazz Messengers ; Mobley was one of the co-founders of the popular jazz direction at the time, hard bop. The results of these sessions were published under the title Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers . Mobley's lyrical, bluesy style and Silver's funk approaches differed significantly from cool jazz . When the Jazz Messengers split in 1956, Mobley continued with pianist Silver for a short time, although he worked again with Blakey a few years later.

After recordings with Silver's Quartet under Mobley's name had already taken place in March 1955, the saxophonist recorded a number of quintet and sextet tracks under his own name in July 1956, in which Donald Byrd and Jackie McLean participated ( Mobley's Message ). In November he had a sextet with trumpeters Lee Morgan and Donald Byrd; He also took part in a New Jazz / Prestige session with Art Farmer. From the collaboration with the two trumpeters he came in contact with Prestige Records ; as a result he participated in some studio sessions, such as the recordings with the Prestige All Stars , u. a. with Al Cohn , John Coltrane and Zoot Sims , which were then released under the title Tenor Conclave . He also recorded under his own name for Savoy Records .

In the late 1950s, albums such as Hank Mobley and His All-Stars with Milt Jackson on the vibraphone (1957), Peckin 'Time (1958) with Lee Morgan and Hank with John Jenkins were made . In 1958 he expanded his band to the septet with the trombonist Curtis Fuller . During those years Hank Mobley was a busy musician in Rudy Van Gelder's studio; he played on the Blue Note recordings of Kenny Burrell , Jimmy Smith , Johnny Griffin , Curtis Fuller and repeatedly with Horace Silver. He also worked with the pianist Sonny Clark on his album Dial 'S' for Sonny . At the turn of the year 1957/58 he went into the studio with Max Roach three times and worked on his albums Max Roach + 4 & More, The Max Roach 4 Plays Charlie Parker and Max Roach - MAX .

1959 Mobley did not record any records under his own name; together with Lee Morgan he was again a member of Art Blakeys Jazz Messengers and temporarily acted as their musical director. In March 1959, he recorded My Conception with Sonny Clark . In 1960 he separated from the Messengers and worked with Freddie Hubbard , with whom he recorded three albums under different names, first as Freddie Hubbard Quintet Goin 'Up , then under his own name Roll Call and then as Kenny Drew Quintet Undercurrent .

The 1960s

In the 1960s, Mobley mainly worked as a director of his own ensembles. In February 1960 his album Soul Station was created with Blakey, Wynton Kelly and Paul Chambers as a rhythm group; Guitarist Grant Green , who can also be heard on Mobley's album Workout, worked for a year .

Mobley also spent a short time with Miles Davis in 1961 while he was looking for a replacement for John Coltrane. Mobley is on the album Someday My Prince Will Come (alongside Coltrane, who returned to record the title track and the track "Teo" and played two solos) and some live recordings ( in person: Live at the Blackhawk and At Carnegie Hall ) Listen.

He soon had to take a year off for drug abuse and the associated jail sentence and only went back to the studio with Donald Byrd in January 1963; the result was the album A New Perspective , in which he combined a gospel choir with the sound of a jazz formation. Around 1963/64 he made his own albums No Room For Squares , The Turnaround and Straight No Filter ; He also worked on Herbie Hancock's Blue Note album My Point of View . From March to October one of Mobley's most important albums, No Room For Squares , was created with Morgan, Byrd, the young Blue Note discovery Andrew Hill and Herbie Hancock. It is an album with only compositions by Hank Mobley.

In 1964 Mobley had to interrupt his career again because of his drug problem, but came back to the jazz scene in 1965 and recorded the relatively experienced soul jazz records Dippin ' and A Caddy for Daddy . In March he went into the studio with Grant Green and played a record that adapted to the tastes of the time, I Want to Hold Your Hand .

In the mid-1960s he played with Lee Morgan ( Cornbread ), Elvin Jones and Donald Byrd ( Mustang ). 1968 was created under its own name Reach Out! with Woody Shaw , Lamont Johnson and George Benson , again an album with strong concessions to contemporary tastes. In 1968/69 Mobley lived in Europe for almost two years: in 1968 he played frequently in Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London; In 1969 he was in Paris: There he worked on Archie Shepps Poem for Malcolm and recorded his Blue Note album The Flip with Dizzy Reece and Philly Joe Jones.

The last years (1970–1986)

In 1970 he returned to New York, where he worked as a freelance musician and formed a band with Cedar Walton ; In September 1970 the last Blue Note LP Thinking Of Home (published only posthumously) with Walton and Woody Shaw was created, which contains a three-part suite composed by Mobley, the only longer work he has survived.

In February 1972 the Cedar Walton / Hank Mobley Quintet recorded with saxophonists Charles Davis , Sam Jones and Billy Higgins . 1973 Mobley made a guest appearance in Chicago. Mobley was forced to retire in the mid-1970s due to lung problems; In 1975 he moved to Philadelphia .

His last recording session was on March 22nd, 1980 with the trio of Tete Montoliu with George Mraz and Al Foster for the SteepleChase label (a piece on the album I Wanna Talk About You ). That year, Melody Maker spoke of "Mobley's semi-disabled condition" due to drug problems. In 1985 he worked briefly with Duke Jordan ; In 1986 he was present at the Blue Note Festival, but without playing. He finally died on May 30, 1986 of pneumonia .

Voices of his colleagues

Mobley has been referred to by Leonard Feather as the "tenor saxophone middleweight champion"; Benny Golson judged him: "Hank Mobley is the most lyrical saxophonist I have ever heard, he sang into his horn"; the Melody Maker headlined about him as the "daddy of the hard bop tenor". He played “neither as aggressively as Coltrane, nor as gently or cool as Getz , but always swinging with a somewhat idiosyncratic approach to rhythm and melody that sometimes pushed him to his limits. And because his style - in contrast to that of musicians like Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane - was relaxed, subtle and melodic, his talent was mainly valued only by connoisseurs until his death. "

The jazz pianist Horace Silver , colleague at the Jazz Messengers , praised in his autobiography: “ Kenny Dorham and Hank Mobley are among the most underrated musicians in jazz. The two giants were there. "

Miles Davis , who recorded Someday My Prince Will Come with Mobley in 1961 , was less enthusiastic in his memoirs: “I was getting bored with the music because I couldn't get on with Hank Mobley's style. Hank just wasn't fun to play with; he couldn't stimulate my imagination. "

Selected discography

As a band leader

  • 1955: Hank Mobley Quartet (Blue Note)
  • 1956: The Jazz Message of Hank Mobley ( Savoy Records )
  • 1956: Mobley's Message ( Prestige Records ; 1957)
  • 1956: Mobley's 2nd Message (Prestige; 1957)
  • 1956: Tenor Conclave (with Al Cohn , John Coltrane and Zoot Sims )
  • 1956: Hank Mobley with Donald Byrd and Lee Morgan (Blue Note, 1957)
  • 1957: Hank Mobley and His All Stars (Blue Note)
  • 1957: Hank Mobley Quintet (Blue Note)
  • 1957: Hank (Blue Note)
  • 1957: Hank Mobley (Blue Note)
  • 1957: Curtain Call (Blue Note, 1984)
  • 1957: Poppin ' (Blue Note; 1980)
  • 1958: Peckin 'Time (Blue Note; 1959)
  • 1960: Soul Station (Blue Note, 1960)
  • 1960: Roll Call (Blue Note; 1961)
  • 1961: Workout (Blue Note; 1962)
  • 1961: Another Workout (Blue Note; 1985)
  • 1963: No Room for Squares (Blue Note; 1964)
  • 1965: The Turnaround (Blue Note, 1965)
  • 1965: Dippin ' (Blue Note, 1966)
  • 1965: A Caddy for Daddy (Blue Note, 1967)
  • 1963–66: Straight No Filter (Blue Note, 1985)
  • 1966: A Slice of the Top (Blue Note, 1979)
  • 1967: Third Season (Blue Note, 1980)
  • 1967: Far Away Lands (Blue Note, 1984)
  • 1967: Hi Voltage (Blue Note, 1968)
  • 1969: The Flip (Blue Note, 1970)
  • 1970: Thinking of Home (Blue Note, 1970/1980)

Important albums as a sideman

With Max Roach

  • 1953: The Max Roach Quartet featuring Hank Mobley ( debut )
  • 1957: The Max Roach 4 Plays Charlie Parker ( EmArcy )
  • 1958: MAX ( Argo Records )

With Horace Silver

With The Jazz Messengers

  • At the Cafe Bohemia (Vol. I + II) (Blue Note, 1955)
  • The Jazz Messengers (Columbia, 1956)
  • At the Jazz Corner of the World (Blue Note, 1959)
  • Just Coolin ' (Blue Note, 1959/2020)

With Lee Morgan

  • Introducing Lee Morgan (Savoy, Debut, 19956)
  • Lee Morgan Volume 2: Sextet (Blue Note, 1958/57)
  • Cornbread (Blue Note, 1965/67)
  • Charisma (Blue Note, 1966/69)
  • The Rajah (Blue Note, 1966/1985)

With Sonny Clark

  • Dial "S" for Sonny (Blue Note, Debut, 1957)
  • My Conception (Blue Note, 1957/59)

With Miles Davis


  • The Complete Blue Note Hank Mobley Fifties Sessions ( Mosaic , 1998)
  • The Complete Hank Mobley Blue Note Sessions 1963-70 (Mosaic, 2020)


Web links

Commons : Hank Mobley  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Audio samples

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Hank Mobley on Blue Note - Recording period between 1954-1970 .
  2. See Kunzler, p. 806.
  3. These are the 50 most valuable vinyl records in the world. In: Rolling Stone of September 10, 2019.
  4. These are the 50 most valuable vinyl records in the world. .
  5. a b c d e f g h Michael Telega: Hank Mobley - Daddy of Hardbop
  6. Hank Mobley - Middleweight Champion of the Tenor Sax , in: JazzEcho from October 2, 2018.
  7. a b c d Hank Mobley on Allmusic (English)
  8. ^ Thomas P. Hustad Born to Play: The Ruby Braff Discography and Directory of Performances Lanham, Toronto, Plymouth 2012, p. 227
  9. Quoted from Kunzler, p. 807.
  10. Horace Silver: Let's Get to the Nitty Gritty. The Autobiography of Horace Silver , University of California Press 2007, p. 88.
  11. ^ Miles Davis: Die Autobiographie , Munich 2010, pp. 340–341.
  12. Art Blakey: New album with unreleased material from July 1, 2020.
  13. Richard Brody: The Haunted Jazz of Hank Mobley in: The New Yorker, March 25, 2020.