Hank Mobley - No Argument (1967)
One of my favorite Hank Mobley LPs…
Hank Mobley - Venus Di Mildew (1965)
Re-entering the music scene after serving time on drug charges, Mobley made a triumphant return to Blue Note with three classic recordings in 1965: The Turnaround, Dippin’, and A Caddy for Daddy. AllMusic says of the personnel gathered here: “A typically remarkable Blue Note lineup.”
I’ve looked for a better version of this Wayne Shorter tune, but I have yet to find it. Swang.
Hank Mobley - A Touch of the Blues (1966)
Mobley puts together an octet for the ages.
This record wasn’t released when it was recorded in 1966, due to a lack of commercial appeal, but it’s important to give this unissued Blue Note recording the time it deserves.
This LP is a Hank Mobley tour de force, highlighting his triple-threat skills in composing, arranging and inspired playing throughout. For as free and beautitful as this record sounds, Mobley wrote all these cuts in jail.
McCoy Tyner also rises to the occasion on this humdinger.
Charlie Rouse - One for Five (1965)
This collection of previously unreleased sessions from the Blue Note vault is not spectacular by any stretch, but this cut headed by Charlie Rouse may be the strongest of the lot.
From Michael Cuscuna’s liner notes:
Charlie Rouse first appeared on Blue Note in 1947 on Tadd Dameron’s first session. In 1962, he made the delightful and unusual Bossa Nova Bacchanal for the label. Two attempts at straight ahead sessions in 1963 and ‘65 proved disappointing, despite promising casts. Only his One For Five, nailed in the first take of the ‘65 session, is worthy of issue.
Lee Morgan - Totem Pole [Alternate Take] (1963)
For all the fuss over the title track of this LP—a song that literally reversed Blue Note’s flagging fortunes and made Lee Morgan a star—it continues to overshadow the real meat of this remarkable recording. Thanks to the RVG remaster series, we can now enjoy a glistening alternate take of the hard bop-inflected Totem Pole, where Joe Henderson and Morgan trade equally simmering solos.
In Lee Morgan’s words:
"If it wasn’t for music, this country would have blown up a long time ago. Music is the only thing that spans across all ethnic groups and all languages. Music is the only thing that awakens the dead man and charms the savage beast. Without it, this would be a hell of a world."
Sonny Clark - Deep in a Dream (1961)
After listening to Hank Mobley’s version, compare it with this later take. The only constant is Sonny Clark.
Tenor saxophonist Ike Quebec [not listed on the LP] plays a cameo sans the other horns on the soulful ballad “Deep in a Dream,” exhibiting a vocal quality on his instrument, making one wonder if any other sessions with this group were done on the side.
Dexter Gordon - Manha De Carnaval (1965)
Some of Blue Note’s efforts in the 60s to create a commercially viable “Brazilian bossa nova” sound come off as derivative and obvious, but there are a few LPs where the specific alchemy of musicians, instruments and mood find the sweet spot. This is one of them.
Lee Morgan - Murphy Man (1966)
Lee Part Three: Whenever I need a Lee Morgan infusion—which admittedly is often—this LP is the most frequent go-to. I’ve already put a few tunes from this record on this blog, but this might be the best straight-ahead hard bop tune on the LP…or come to think of it, anywhere.
Lee Morgan - Davisamba (1966)
This recording spent 18 years in the Blue Note vaults. Lucky for jazz listeners, Michael Cuscuna found it, blew the dust off, and released it so that we can experience another LP of Morgan/Mobley magic, underpinned by a rhythm section’s rhythm section of Cedar Walton, Paul Chambers and Billy Higgins. Bliss.
Hank Mobley - My Sin (1965)
Another round of exquisite balladeering from the pen of Mobley, with sterling contributions from Freddie Hubbard and Barry Harris.
Lee Morgan - Speed Ball (1965)
From Nat Hentoff’s LP liner notes:
Of similar ebullient value is the quick-stepping, neatly liberating Speed Ball. Dig how relaxed Wayne Shorter is in this setting. It’s impossible not to be. Lee again comes on with that persistently satisfying clarity of articulation, that combination of technique and ideas and feelings which proclaim that everything’s together.
I haven’t mentioned the importance of Billy Higgins to the relaxed, powerful flow of these proceedings. I know a lot of hornmen who look forward to a chance to play with Billy because they know he’ll make it easy for them to do their own thing—deeply easy. Because Billy listens and responds and has, to use an ineffable word, taste. Listen to his breaks here.
Hank Mobley - No More Goodbyes (1967)
An intimately crafted measure of plangent, rainy-day perfection from the ultimate balladeer, with pitch-perfect accompaniment from pianist John Hicks and the all-Blue-Note rhythm section of Bob Cranshaw and Billy Higgins.
Hank Mobley - Don’t Cry, Just Sigh (1967)
It must have been frustrating for Mobley to record so many great sessions in the late 60s that languished in the Blue Note vaults, unreleased. I suppose one can chalk it up to the vagaries of popular music and the direction the commercial winds were blowing at Blue Note in the late 60s (think funky, derivative boogaloo beats).
Either way, this session deserved a far better fate, as evidenced by this medium-tempo swinger. Lee Morgan plays admirably, but it is Mobley—with some telepathic drumming from Billy Higgins and the intuitive comping of pianist Cedar Walton—who constructs one of the best solos from this period in his career.
Lee Morgan - Sneaky Pete (1967)
Paired with Texas tenor David “Fathead” Newman, who ventures outside his R&B roots to demonstrate serious hard bop chops. Cedar Walton, Ron Carter and Billy Higgins are instrumental (no pun intended) to the spontaneity and the drive of this session.
Original Japanese LP art above, re-releases below.