Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Magnificent Mobley

As summer winds down and a slow release week comes and goes, Blue Note Records makes due by reissuing a slew of classy oldies. There's Jimmy Smith paying tribute to Fats Waller, Jeremy Steig's soulful Howlin' For Judy (whose title track became a hook for the Beastie Boys' "Sure Shot"), Eddie Henderson's funky Miles-ish (appropriate since he's working with some of his sidemen) Heritage, the Three Sounds' sweet, joyful and appropriately titled Elegant Soul, Reuben Wilson's funky organ traipsing through late 60's/early 70's hits on Set Us Free and sax-man J.R. Montrose's self titled album featurfing Horace Silver and Philly Joe Jones.

My personal favorite from the latest batch is Hank Mobley Quintet featuring Silver once again along with trumpeter Art Farmer and drummer Art Blakey, which makes for quite a stellar line-up, not to mention the rhythm section for the original Jazz Messengers. This self-titled album comes from a March 1957 session. By that time, Mobley had been a protege of not just Silver and Blakey but also Dizzy Gillespie. Later on, he was haunted by drug problems and inferiority complexes, dying at age 55 in 1986 but along with a handful of later Blue Note records, this Quintet date is a great part of the hard bop pantheon. Though Mobley's flights of fancy are rightly the star of the show, a lot of credit must be given to Blakey too as his cymbal crashes set off the solos perfectly and to Silver as well who provided solid not-so-understated backing and nice solos himself throughout. And try as you might, you're not going to resist titles like "Wham and They're Off" (which could have been the title of a glam record too) and "Funk in a Deep Freeze" (which should give George Clinton the chills). Hear some samples of the album at Amazon too.


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