Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hank Mobley - Soul Station (1960)

Just one look at this album cover and I thought: night. Yep, this is one of those night time jazz records; upon the first few listens it jumps out as an album that evokes neon lights reflected off the sheen of soggy city streets, cigarette smoke slowly rising up to the ceiling of a dark nightclub, maybe a shady figure standing in the shadow of a doorway. Hank Mobley's presence in the jazz stratosphere can be likened to exactly that- a figure standing in the shadows, never really gaining full notoriety for his tenor sax exploits.

Of course, the premier tenormen of the day, Coltrane and Rollins, have cast such a huge shadow over all of jazz (not just Mobley) it's no wonder he's been lost in the mix. Undervalued, under appreciated- he's really one of the quintessential hard bop saxophonists; never choppy or percussive, always fluid and relaxed. Starting with this record, Mobley would be at the start of a string of four really great hard bop records; Roll Call, Workout and No Room For Squares.

This session, from February 7th, 1960, was cut at Rudy Van Gelder's studio and features none other than Art Blakey on drums, Paul Chambers on bass and Wynton Kelly on piano.

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