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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dean Martin's "A Winter Wonderland"

Listening to the Capitol LP on T-1285 and on a few of these tracks such as Let It Snow, I've got my love to keep me warm and Baby its cold outside I think Dean Martin really hits home runs..

I mean where any of these songs Christmas standards before Dean Martin sang them? I listen to a lot of Christmas music around this time of year and no one does the holidays better than Dino. Oh yah Rudolph ain't nothing to sneeze at..The album cover is a hoot too... Dean is up to his usual no good ways..presumably hugging his girl while exchanging flirtatious glances with a beautiful snow bunny..I guess Christmas is just more fun with Dean Martin than without..without we seem to be left with too much Adestes and White Christmas type stuff...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Here is a quote purported to be from Hank Mobley towards the end of his life.. I found it on the internet and it was part of a pretty good bio but unattributed:

"The doctor told me not to play it, or I might blow one of my lungs out. It's hard for me to think of what could be and what should have been. I lived with Charlie Parker, Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk; I walked with them up and down the street. I did not know what it meant when I listened to them cry--until it happened to me."

Hank Mobley Obituary

I had often wondered if he got an obit in Philadelphia where he died and he did... see below:

Hank Mobley, International Jazz Figure

Hank Mobley, a jazz saxophonist of international stature who played with the leading musicians of the day and made his greatest impact as a member of the Miles Davis group in the 1960s, died Friday. He was 55 and had lived in Philadephia since 1972.

Born Henry Mobley in Eastman, Ga., he moved to the Newark-Elizabeth, N.J., area in childhood and studied music privately. Early in his career he played with the Paul Gayton orchestra and other regional bands.

As a tenor saxophonist, his most important associations in jazz were with the Horace Silver and Art Blakey groups in the 1950s and the Davis aggregation the following decade.

Later he was the co-leader of combos with Lee Morgan, Kenny Dorham and Cedar Walton. In 1967-68, he toured Europe, making appearances in London, Paris, Munich, Rome and other cities in Poland, Hungary and Yugoslavia.

Among the many musicians in his ken over the years were Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Slide Hampton, Wilbur Ware and Philly Joe Jones. He played recently at the Angry Square on New York’s 7th Avenue.

He was the composer of a number of jazz tunes, including "Breakthrough," "The Morning After," A Caddy for Daddy," "The Dip" and "Straight Ahead."

Survivors include his father, Otis Rogers; his stepmother, Lillian O. Rogers; and two aunts, Jenethel Cooney and Rosa Boyer. Friends may call from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Johnson Funeral Home, 46th Street and Woodland Avenue. Burial will be Saturday at Mount Lawn Cemetery, 84th Street and Hook Road, Sharon Hill, Delaware County.
-Philadelphia Daily News, June 4, 1986. Used by permission.

January 11, 1986: Mobley's curtain call?

Interesting.. from the New York Times archives available on the internet we see that Mobley was still perhaps ocasionally playing the sax even a few months before he died..

Hank Mobley Quartet
The saxophonist Hank Mobley will lead a quartet, with Lodi Carr as guest singer, tonight at the Angry Squire, 216 Seventh Avenue, below 23d Street (242-9066). Sets begin at 9 and 11 P.M. and 1 A.M. There is a $7 cover and a two-drink minimum.
January 11, 1986 - Arts - 41 words

Did the revaluation of Hank Mobley begin here?

Interesting article from the New York Times November 3, 1990. Given that when Mobley died in 1986 the Times didn't even publish an obituary it is interesting to see this article. So what happened between 1986 and 1990? Perhaps the 1987 reissue of Soul Station on CD?

Review/ Jazz; Hard-Bop Solos of 1950's By PETER WATROUS Published: November 3, 1990

The small-group hard-bop compositions of the 1950's and 60's are some of the least explored territories in jazz. The music's composers have been seen as improvisers who wrote pieces as vehicles for soloing; the tunes, difficult to play, dropped out of the standard repertory. The sold-out show at Weill Recital Hall on Monday night featured the music of the tenor saxophonist and composer Hank Mobley, who died in 1986. The concert was meant to prove a point about his music's brilliance, and did a good job of it.

Of all the composers of the Blue Note Record label school, Mr. Mobley, who recorded with the label between 1954 and 1970 -- he was anoriginal member of the Jazz Messengers -- clearly loved ambiguity. His compositions, verging on melancholy, usually right themselves with a blue undercurrent that stiffens them; switching emotions as quickly as they switch strains, the compositions unfold logically, piece by piece. And as played by an exceptional group, including Don Sickler on trumpet, Clifford Jordan on tenor saxophone, Cedar Walton on piano, Buster Williams on bass and Billy Higgins on drums, the tunes resonated with emotional power that in no way seemed dated.

But the show was making other points as well. As arranged by Mr. Sickler (who is behind a good deal of the small-band repertory movement) the pieces took on complexity, with riffs, short drum solos and stop-time sections breaking up the traditional string-of-solos form. In addition, Mr. Sickler put together medleys of similar tunes; not all the musicians soloed on each piece, putting the compositions in the foreground and making for an audience-friendly concert. And with the chronology of the tunes ranging from 1955 to 1972, Mr. Sickler brought some light on Mr. Mobley's lesser-known, later compositions.

All of this floated on a perfect rhythm section that locked into grooves with the finesse of a well-tuned sports car. Mr. Higgins and Mr. Walton have a rhythmic affinity, and they would catch the structural changes of a tune with rhythmic cadences that framed the improvisers' statements. And the soloists picked apart the tunes as well; Mr. Jordan, typically, turned modal sections of Mr. Mobley's later tunes into a playground, moving from belly honks to high-pitched pleas to be-bop lines, before being reined in by a tune's sudden harmonic movement. And Mr. Sickler eased his way through the changes gracefully, capturing the bluesy wistfulness and ease Mr. Mobley left as his legacy.

Also check out

I've decided to concentrate my little efforts on this blog but there is some other interesting Mobley stuff I posted on there a while back... Not sure why the google or yahoo searches don't pick up the blog...

More on Mobley's dissapearances from the studio

I had written in my post of a few days ago but the large gaps in Mobley's recording output and ascribed this to problems with drugs but it simply never ocurred to me that perhaps he was jailed for periods. Steve Huey in his bio on the All Music Guide mentions that after the Peckin' Time session "...a worsening drug problem resulted in an arrest that took him off the scene for a year.." and that after 1963's No Room for Squares "...drug and legal problems again put him out of commission during 1964." I look at the pictures of Mobley on the various album covers and its hard to imagine him being arrested. He is about as well dressed and clean cut as one can imagine but then again these pictures often look like they all come from the same session photographed by Francis Wolff so who knows... Its remarkable how little is known about Mobley's life considering he is a pretty big seller currently. Someone ought to do a bio of him before all the primary sources are gone!

Monday, November 12, 2007


So I was wrong....the phrase "Middleweight champion of the tenor.." is to be found in the liner notes to Blue Note 4080.. I just received the Workout album in the mail (a liberty pressing with New York labels)- a record I'd wanted for a long time- and the liner notes by Leonard Feather begin "Henry Mobley is the middleweight champion of the tenor saxophone." This is the statement that we so often read consigned Mobley to ignominity because supposedly people read this and thought it was some sort of insult meaning he was not a heavyweight like Coltrane or a lightweight like Lester Young/Getz.. his sound was in the middle... boring...etc... We read things over and over again and we start to believe they must be true but its hard for me to believe that anyone who bought this album or even just read the liner notes would only have read the first sentence! And the next paragraph qualifies the statement "That is to say, he is not to be compared (and this judgment is made in terms of size of sound as well as fame, fortune and poll victories) with such heavyweights as Coleman Hawkins or John Coltrane, both of whom, in their respective eras, can be considered the most consistently unvanquished. Nor is there any necessity to relate Hank to the lightweights, headed by Stan Getz...." I mean is it possible that this phrase "Middleweight champion of the tenor" could have consigned him to obscurity? I really think this is a case of music critics trying to make themselves important. The review is laudatory and anyone with a passing knowledge of jazz would have recognized Mobley's sidemen on the album, Kelly. Chambers and Philly Joe Jones, as all having played with Miles Davis. Its hard to believe that anyone that enjoyed jazz in 1961 would have dismissed this record because of Feather's phrase. More than likely Mobley's type of jazz- in 1961 - just wasn't "in" and for whatever reason didn't connect with people.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Whatever happened to Hank Mobley? (via Dizzy Reece)

I'd always wanted this one but have found it impossible to find. There seem to have been very few copies printed of the original LP and I never see it on later pressings (i.e., liberty, new york, united artists, etc.). I do think it might be available on a scorpio pressing for 9.99.. not sure about that... but I found a Classic Records pressing and thought it would be cool to have one having heard all the hype.. Well I am impressed with the quality... The platter is heavy and really looks and feels like the original but of course no RVG or ear in the wax..sigh.... The LP cover is not as hard or thick as the original and is shinier ...on the back there is a telling "Courtesy of Blue Note Records.." I am not an audiophile but this one sounds great to me.. Now why was I interested in this one? Well , Hank Mobley firstly.... HE is the tenor man here playing with Wynton Kelly and Paul Chambers and Art Taylor... .... but the main reason I was interested in this one is because the recording date on November 19, 1959 predates the one and only great Soul Station session by but a few weeks (February 7, 1960). Save for a live session with Blakey for Blue Note 4015 Meet you at the Jazz Corner in APril 1959 this was the first Blue Note Mobley date since Peckin' Time a session co-led with Lee Morgan dating back to February 1958 and also featuring Chambers and Kelly. And that was his first session since June 1957 on the classic Mobley Blue Note 1568. Its telling that he would go on to record his greatest LPs with both Chambers and Kelly. Leonard Feather who tragically called Mobley the "..middleweight champion of the tenor saxophone" (I believe in the liner notes to soul station) here also contributes the notes with the following reference to Hank; "Mobley's sound, on this track and throughout the album, has more assurance and warmth than ever"(referring to "The Rake") and later on referring to him with "Hank's time is conspicuously cool.." (re: I wishes on the moon). I have to agree with Feather that Mobley does sound different on this LP than he did in his mid 50s to 57 sides. Basically since mid 57 until Soul Station he only co-led Peckin time and played on the live Blakey date (in so far as Blue Note goes...). Ergo, Mobley's recording session work had decreased markedly. 1958 was a very fallow year taking into account that between 1956-1957 he'd been in on something like 38 sessions. He would never recover. He simply would not be recorded as often again. I suppose the reasons must either be that he fell into heavy drug use or that since he was not selling records there was not much desire to record him. The truth probably lies somewhere in between with these two factors reinforcing each other. Its truly a pity because I find his playing on the 1959-1961 period to be more enjoyable than his golden years recordingwise which must be considered 1956-1957. In fact we see that between Peckin Time in February 58 he did participate in the live at birdland twin dates for Roulette (which are not on the level of anything else he was doing) and a private basement jam session (Joe Brazil's) until in March 59 he participated on a rejected Blue Note session and played tenor on a few other rejected sessions -including one led by Sonny Clark- before Blakey took him to Birdland and the Meet you at the Jazz Corner..then it would take until the Dizzy Reece date to get him going again. So what we have is that basically Mobley between the last quarter of 1957 and the end of 1959 had barely been recorded at all! This is an amazing gap. Between Soul Station and Going Up with Hubbard (November 1960) there would be another 9 month gap. SO: 1958, 1959 and 1960 Mobley was recording infrequently. He would join Miles Davis in 1961 (perhaps March) stick around til May (includign the live at the blackhawk stuff) and be out of the Miles circle by May. At this point he would have a failed session in December for Blue Note , Another Workout (great stuff!), which would not be released and there is no record of him having played any music the entire year of 1962! What am I saying? I guess that Mobley really did fall on some hard times.. It remains for biographers to try to piece this all together... What is clear is that after failing to cut it in Miles' eyes Mobley pretty much did not play for 18 months!!!!!! Sad for someone that had cut Soul Station only the year before... mind boggling actually...

Ron Paul

SO Ron Paul raised over $4 million in a single day. The media continues to ignore him at best and at worse put him down as some kook but his message of a return to a more limited government will always play well with Americans because that IS what this country is founded and built on. The revolution back in 1776 was nothing more than a reaction to a British government which had become overly intrusive. The Federalist papers are evidence that the founders wished to construct a limited government. Unfortunately in the present day we have a government- democratic and republican- which has forgotten who is the master and has become all powerful and all present. Living in Washington DC one is struck by their gall and intrusiveness even with simple things such as presidential inagurations, street closings, closing of the capitol steps.. all justified in the name of national security but one suspects responding to ulterior motives.

It is true that Ron Paul is not scoring much in the polls, yet, but I think his message will play well in New Hampshire and I don't expect him to do any worse than second. In a way, and it has been written in other places, Paul is the new Howard Dean filling a vacumn that neither of the major parties wants to look at...

John Coltrane Blue Train

Listening to the 1997 reissue catalog number ST-46095 and I have to say I think it sounds great. In fact all LPs I have from this 1997 series sound great to me. Can't recall which other ones I have specifically but I know Mobley's Soul Station is one of them. Anyways I know there are other reissues by say Classic Records but if I had to have a reissue I'd go with this one I think....Interestingly though the catalog number has the prefix "ST" it is glorious mono. This reissue by the way is on heavy vinyl 180 gram.