Harold Mabern - Strozier’s Mode (1969)
This track cooks. Mabern was cranking out challenging jazz music in ‘69, even as the prevailing jazz winds were blowing in a rock and roll direction. In addition to his own ripping solo, Mabern gets excellent support here from George Coleman and a crack rhythm section of Idris Muhammad (Leo Morris) and Buster Williams on bass.
Hank Mobley and Harold Mabern during Mobley’s Dippin’ session, Englewood Cliffs NJ, June 18 1965 (photo by Francis Wolff)
Blue Mitchell - Port Rico Rock (1966)
Drummer Billy Higgins let his drums do the talking during his storied career behind the skins, but there are a couple of audible yells from him on record. This infectious, latin-tinged Blue Mitchell cut contains one of them.
Harold Mabern - John Neely-Beautiful People (1970)
This is not an easy one to track down. Lee Morgan (in one of his final sideman appearances) and Hubert Laws make up a great front line, and the uber-funky bass/drum team of Buster Williams and Idris Muhammad (nee Leo Morris) team up with Harold Mabern on the final cut from his last record for Prestige. Thumbs to the sky.
Harold Mabern - Rakin’ and Scrapin’ (1968)
I first heard Mabern with Hank Mobley on Dippin’. It’s easy to see why he was a first-choice pianist among the great hornmen of Mabern’s day, with his groovy yet sympathetic two-fisted Memphis chops. Along with another Memphian, George Coleman, and the great Blue Mitchell, Mabern digs up a solid groove on this Prestige release from 1968.
Blue Mitchell - Bring It Home To Me (1966)
From Ira Gitler’s original liner notes for this cut:
Bring It Home starts carrying it in the front door, the back door, the windows and the chimney from the first chorus. Mitchell calls it a good example of the current blues rhythm. The solos open with Cook’s open-throated cries and preaching phrases and continue with Blue’s strong, brassy statements. Here you have the infectiousness of a beat in current vogue without the harsh noises of guitars at highest amplification. Mabern is a fine blues man as he demonstrates again in his solo.
This is 3/5ths of Horace Silver’s great quintet (Blue Mitchell, Junior Cook, Gene Taylor), augmented by the battery master, Billy Higgins, and the underplayed Memphis blues master, Harold Mabern.
Hank Mobley - The Break Through (1965)
From Ira Gitler’s original liner notes:
“The Break Through,” by Hank, is an unabashed, straight-ahead cooker with its roots planted firmly in bop. As in most Mobley compositions, there are interesting twists and turns, and the writer-leader makes good use of them. After Morgan’s short solo, Mabern alternates a single-line with his two-fisted style before Higgins and the horns trade “fours.”
Mobley and Morgan together = Happy place.
Hank Mobley - Ballin’ (1965)
Hank Mobley was a genius. Dig it.
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.
Freddie Hubbard - Cunga Black (1965)
I woke up with this song resolutely stuck in my head. I haven’t listened to this LP in months, so I attribute the sudden appearance to the specific mysteries of a remarkably catchy, whistle-able melody. It seems serendipity often dictates how a song makes its way here.
Hank Mobley - Recado Bossa Nova (1965)
Hank’s bag of Brazilian tricks, part deux.
Jackie McLean - Bluesanova (1965)
An ‘ol dusty from the Blue Note vaults, unreleased until 1980 on vinyl, and re-released on CD in 2006. It’s almost criminal that so many Jackie McLean sets never saw the light of day in their time. Both horn men shine on this track by Lee Morgan.