GA Russell

AotW - Hank Mobley - Soul Station

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I want to give you a heads up that the AotW for the first two weeks of April will be Hank Mobley's Soul Station.

Of course, this is an album that has been mentioned many times here, but I was a little surprised to see that it has been the subject of only one thread that I found, a thread from a year ago. That thread contained a number of comments along the lines of which song was the poster's favorite, but there wasn't much on why someone who hadn't heard it should go out and buy it, other than the enthusiasm of the posters. So I thought the album might be a good candidate for AotW.

http://www.organissimo.org/forum/index.php...l+Station\

If you haven't already bought it, it is available from BMG/Your Music, and from J&R for $6.99.

http://www.jr.com/JRProductPage.process?Product=3916495

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My introduction to Hank Mobley was one of the Miles Blackhawk LPs, which I bought about 1973. To this day, it remains one of my least favorite Miles albums.

So I never gave Mobley much of a chance. But since so many here like him, I thought I would try Soul Station, which, as the liner notes say, most people consider to be his Saxophone Colossus.

Looking at the lineup, it appeared to me that the weakest link in the chain was the leader of the date!

I like this much more than I thought I would. It reminds me of Kenny Dorham's Quiet Kenny. They both feature a single horn with a piano trio rhythm section, a rather laid back vibe, and apparently low-budget production values. My kind of record!

I don't consider the originals to be on the same level as the standards, and I think the album would have been better with another standard. But it's a very good record, and it does move me to think about which of his records I'll get next. Right now, I'm thinking that I'll get Workout.

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You heard the new, much-expanded edition of the Blackhawk date? Was wondering if that'd change your mind. I say this despite my not liking it much. Mobley sounds ill at ease & the lack of chemistry with Miles is palpable (they barely play together, in fact).

Yes Soul Station is marvellous, though it took a while for me to warm to it (first time I'd encountered Mobley actually)--it sounded like he was running changes with his favourite licks a bit too much. Wouldn't put it that way now, though I'll have to revisit the album to see how my opinion's changed.

Anyway, thanks for the pick.

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To me, Hank is a great Hard Bop player, but a crummy Soul Jazz player - "Reach out" is a very poor attempt at Soul Jazz.

But "Soul station", like "Workout" seem to me to occupy a jazz space similar to many of Horace Silver's albums and some of Cannonball's - they're simultaneously major elements of both the Hard Bop and Soul Jazz traditions.

What's really RIGHT about "Soul station" and "Workout" is the lovely, catchy tunes, which the ordinary, everyday listener can really get with and sing along to. (And those grooves.) Mobley's tunes are really quite a turnoff for your everyday listener. His fifties material I find overtly impenetrable, whether it be the material on the Mosaic box, which I haven't got for understandable reasons, or the stuff on the B side of "All night long". But in these two albums, Hank's tunes are really grab your guts stuff. Comparing them with "Roll call" which was recorded in between times, only "My groove, your move" has this same quality.

It's not just the tunes, of course. One of the things that always occurs to me when I'm listening to either album is how much like Gene Ammons, in attitude, not style of course, Hank is on them. I would really have loved to have heard Jug do "Dig dis", "Uh huh" or "Greasin' easy".

Having said all that, my favourite Mobley is not one of these but "Thinking of home" :)

MG

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Having said all that, my favourite Mobley is not one of these but "Thinking of home" :)

Wow - It's an enjoyable session for sure but I think it's one of his weakest dates, poor old Hank sounds a bit weary in parts. Personally, I prefer the 'Reach Out', especially the hard bop numbers as distinct from the soul covers (but I think they have a charm nevertheless).

'Soul Station' of course is one of the mighty triumvirate with 'Roll Call' and 'Work Out'. Not much to chhose between them to me - each of them a golden nuggett. 'Soul Station' for majesterial Mobley solos, 'Roll Call' for the chemistry with Freddie Hubbard and 'Workout' for the drive of Grant Green. Superb programming of tunes and pace on all 3 albums.

Edited by sidewinder

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Soul Station has a good mixture of Mobley originals and standards and makes a fine introduction to his art. It can be listened to with pleasure at any time if you enjoy either hard bop or soul jazz. IMO, you probably won't find much of this era appealing if Soul Station flunks your listening test.

Having said all this, I would rank Workout and Roll Call ahead of Soul Station as Mobley outings and believe all three recordings belong in any serious collection of hard bop, late 50s/early 60s jazz.

Peace,

Blue Trane

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One of the interesting things in the new Mobley book is the mention that this was the first session in which Mobley used the metal Otto Link mouthpiece, which broadened his tone considerably from that in his his earlier recordings for Blue Note, Savoy and Prestige.

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One of the interesting things in the new Mobley book is the mention that this was the first session in which Mobley used the metal Otto Link mouthpiece, which broadened his tone considerably from that in his his earlier recordings for Blue Note, Savoy and Prestige.

What Mobley book?

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One of the interesting things in the new Mobley book is the mention that this was the first session in which Mobley used the metal Otto Link mouthpiece, which broadened his tone considerably from that in his his earlier recordings for Blue Note, Savoy and Prestige.

What Mobley book?

'Workout - The Music Of Hank Mobley' by Derek Ansell (Northway Books). Just out in the shops here in the UK, still working my way through it !

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This is far and away my favorite Mobley album. Everything clicks here: Blakey, Kelly, and Chambers making a perfect rhythm section for Mobley to coast, soar, swoop, strut, and a shitload of other cliches to describe his playing. Probably earthy is the one that describes it the best. At ease, too.

This album always reminds me of driving around Austin with a couple of friends. When I popped it into the player, one of my friends spoke up and said, "Ah... Hank!"

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When I popped it into the player, one of my friends spoke up and said, "Ah... Hank!"

Lucky man!

MG

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Soul Station was the first Mobley album to feature this round, warm sound that was really unique, completely his own, not as hard and loud as Trane, Newk, or Dex, but round - that's why Dex christened him the middleweight champion of the tenor saxophone, a very appropriate description.

Hank's phrasing is very intricate, too, with a very definite accent on rhythmic contour that I don't hear in other players, always on the beat, not as loose as Rollins, not as funky as Shorter, again rather light but very distinctive. Very elegant, too - no randomizations, rhythmically, which you can hear with most other players - e.g. the rhythmic patterns of Trane are rather repetitious, in comparison.

When Mobley joined Miles he joined the band at the possibly most unfortunate point in time - Miles was mad that Trane had left, and the tenor he wanted (Shorter) was reluctant to leave Blakey. He had to wait some time and no saxist could do it right for him - certainly not Mobley's fault. I never understood people just repeating Miles biased judgement, and the fragmented LP version of the Blackhawk recordings is the last place where one can hear the real Hank Mobley.

Soul Station is a good place to start with Hank - Roll Call and the Workouts next, and then the trilogy The Turnaround / No Room For Squares / Straight No Filter, where he displayed a somewhat harder sound.

Hank still is the middleweight champion, at least among hard bop tenorists. I learned a lot about him and understanding jazz from listening to Soul Station.

And, the title is a classic!

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This was one of my first jazz albums. I remember having it on pretty heavy rotation with Joe Henderson's "Page One" and Dexter's "Our Man In Paris". I find Hank suffers a little in comparison with those two; I find his tone a little too woolly for extended listening (I have the same problem with Curtis Fuller on trombone). Having said that, I think Soul Staion is a classic album - "Remember" is a tune I really like, and I love Wynton and Blakey - Wynton especially on the title track.

I bought "Workout" after this one, and thought it OK, but never explored Mobley any further.

Edited by rdavenport

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I will never be able to decid which Mobley album is my favourite. Soul Station is a part of the "mighty triumvirate" (copyright Sidewinder) "Soul Sation Roll Call Wokout" Mobley's best era - probably. "The More i see you" is one of my all time favourite Mobley tune (on Roll Call). Anyway, many althought later albums are not as well considered as those three, the title song "No Room for Square" is a fabulous one. I also like A caddy for daddy", especially the first two songs : "Caddy " and "The day After" a very underrated masterpiece. High Voltage is a fine one, i love the away Blue Mitchell playas against the tempo (like Mobley used to).

Back to Soul Station, i think that it is the session that has the best "density" ; i mean : nothing to forget here. Every title is fine, Mobley is inspired on every tune.

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Soul Station has one of the all time great Blue Note songs (and song titles): THIS I DIG OF YOU.

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One of the interesting things in the new Mobley book is the mention that this was the first session in which Mobley used the metal Otto Link mouthpiece, which broadened his tone considerably from that in his his earlier recordings for Blue Note, Savoy and Prestige.

What Mobley book?

'Workout - The Music Of Hank Mobley' by Derek Ansell (Northway Books). Just out in the shops here in the UK, still working my way through it !

I just pre-ordered at Amazon. Shows a release date of May 15, 2008.

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My love for this album runs very deep, but it took quite awhile for it to sink in initially. If I remember correctly I picked this up because of the presence of Wynton Kelly & Paul Chambers (I was working my way through the Miles Davis sidemen at the time). One of my best friends just RAVED about this album so I decided to grab it. The first few times through it basically went in one ear and out the other. Pleasant, but nothing really "stuck"...the only thing that stood out was Kelly's solo on This I Dig Of You.

Then one particular morning I woke up very early, kind of in a melancholy state of mind and decided to cheer myself up with some jazz. I grabbed this album out and something happened, I don't really know how to describe it, but from the first notes of Remember I was enthralled. Mobley's absolutely GORGEOUS tone just seemed to warm up the room, but there's also an incredibly funky, soulful, playful vibe to his solos. Underneath the surface sheen, there's some seriously earthy shit going on.

Although Remember is my favorite track I can't praise the originals highly enough, TASTEFUL little funky numbers...the riff of Dig Dis in particular is Mobley taking a very simple idea and through pure power of performance, transforms it into almost magisterial proportions. The rest are of equal quality. If I Should Lose You is yet another example of why Mobley should have recorded an all standards/ballads date.

Gotta give Wynton his props on this album, Mobley never had a better partner, if ever two people were perfectly in tune with each other it was these cats. Swinging lightly...but swinging HARD.

Edited by Shawn

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This one seems to be a favorite among "those who were there", and god knows I understand why. Everything's perfect, and everybody's in their zones of the time about as well as anybody can be in any zone.

However, it's a bittersweet perfection for me, listening to this one is, because Hank sounds so happy, so balanced, so at peace with his life and his music. And we all know that even if that was the case for that moment (or those moments, considering the other albums of this time that more or less run in the same current), it was not to last, that there were tensions both internal and external that upset the balance and triggered a whole 'nother set of reactions in and from Hank.

To that end, as much as I love Soul Station (and that is a lot), I still reach for Dippin' far more often, probably because that's the album (along with Lee's Cornbread) which for me captures Hank as those transitions began to take root and at a time when he was still deciding to confront them aggressively rather than passive-aggressively (relatively speaking, passive-aggressiveness had always been a key factor to Mobley's approach, I think), and it's there that I feel I get more of the "totality" of what & who Hank Mobley was, instead of a glorious picture of a part of who he was.

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'Soul Station' of course is one of the mighty triumvirate with 'Roll Call' and 'Work Out'. Not much to chhose between them to me - each of them a golden nuggett. 'Soul Station' for majesterial Mobley solos, 'Roll Call' for the chemistry with Freddie Hubbard and 'Workout' for the drive of Grant Green. Superb programming of tunes and pace on all 3 albums.

I think that Workout might be my top of the three, though Roll Call has some really bitchin' Bu. I agree that SS has a similar vibe to Quiet Kenny, a laid-back but highly nuanced session, though it's certainly not the first Hank I reach for. I do enjoy Hank with a front line partner and some fires stoked as well. By the same token, I enjoy the somewhat ragged company he kept with Donald Byrd and Doug Watkins on those Transition records (in terms of the "spirit" of the dates).

To that end, as much as I love Soul Station (and that is a lot), I still reach for Dippin' far more often, probably because that's the album (along with Lee's Cornbread) which for me captures Hank as those transitions began to take root and at a time when he was still deciding to confront them aggressively rather than passive-aggressively (relatively speaking, passive-aggressiveness had always been a key factor to Mobley's approach, I think), and it's there that I feel I get more of the "totality" of what & who Hank Mobley was, instead of a glorious picture of a part of who he was.

I guess I need to get Dippin', huh?

Edited by clifford_thornton

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I guess I need to get Dippin', huh?

Yes, and all the others you've been missin' ... :ph34r:

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I guess I need to get Dippin', huh?

Yes, and all the others you've been missin' ... :ph34r:

Now let's not start that... we get to things when we get to them.

I've got about 12-15 Mobley sessions so it's a start.

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