Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Review: Hank Mobley - Roll Call

Hank Mobley’s ‘Roll Call’ comes cut from the same cloth as his superb highest-rated work from the same period in the early sixties, namely ‘Soul Station’, ‘Workout’ and ‘Another Workout’. This session though makes its own name for itself with a much more energetic take, right from the opening crashing drum-rolls courtesy of Mr Art Blakey.

It would be fair to say though that all of the three afore-mentioned albums are better efforts, and the clear cream of the crop, mainly due to the greater presence of Mobley himself and plenty of his soft and warm rounded tone. Here, alongside his tenor, Freddie Hubbard lends his considerable talent with the trumpet, and it’s his horn with its harder edgier tone that surprisingly dominates throughout. The quintet are all strong, much as you’d expect from a grouping of Mobley, Hubbard, Blakey, Wynton Kelly and Paul Chambers, but it is Hubbard that dazzles the most, with his effortless yet unmistakeable pumped up and muscular playing. On ‘The More I See You’ he even apes/homages Miles Davis, and very successfully too.

Mobley’s tunes are, as always, excellent; as much as his easy-going and songlike saxophone was often criticised at the time, for not being adventurous enough, his skill with writing was, even for the most ardent critic, hard to ignore. Even so, his playing here is stylish and cool, without being unimpassioned. Blakey too makes a great impression throughout with his clattering personalised style of drumming.

‘Roll Call’ has been somewhat overshadowed by the tenor mans other, perhaps more famous, sessions from the late fifties and early sixties, and although justifiable when up against those standout works, it is a consistently strong listen that sits well in their company and is very well-deserving of some greater recognition as being one of Mobleys best dates.


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