Monday, 13 January 2014

Review: Hank Mobley - Dippin'

Having had the signs of a successful solo career about to take off in the late fifties, Hank Mobley was then arrested for drugs offences and sentenced to a year in prison in 1958. Getting back on track afterwards, with both an extended audition with Miles Davis and recording his best ever sessions (‘Soul Station’, ‘Roll Call’ ‘Workout’, ‘Another Workout’, and to a lesser extent ‘No Room For Squares’), Mobley then spent the most part of ’64 again behind bars.

If the first spell inside had clearly marked the period between his twin emergences as both a player and a composer, and his easily strongest output, then the second spell sadly easily marks the difference between his clear best work and his slow gradual decline.

‘Dippin’’ from 1965 though is still a recording full of vigour and confidence, as signalled by Billy Higgins explosive drum opening that kick-starts the up-tempo funk of ‘The Dip’. A great main theme leads into a catchy bridge that gives both Mobley and frequent collaborator Lee Morgan the chance to play two very hot solos. It’s the first of four variable blues originals from Mobley that form the most part of the album. ‘The Break Through’ and ‘The Vamp’ are good, if not as good, whereas ‘Ballin’’, that closes, is mere standard-issue hard bop – it’s fast and quite fun, yet instantly forgettable.

The only slower-paced piece here is the ballad ‘I See Your Face Before Me’, which showcases perfectly the beautiful sound of Mobley and Morgan together as one voice. The only other cover here is a take on Djalma Ferriero’s ‘Recado Bossa Nova’ which, alongside the almost-title track, is the best thing here. Dancey infectious samba that sounds almost like a possible soundtrack theme, Mobley and Morgan again deliver stunning solos against the highly melodic samba-funk hybrid.

Overall though, this isn't one of Mobley’s greatest efforts. It’s an above average one with a couple of stand-out highlights that would most definitely be welcome on any Hank Mobley compilation. If you've found his more well-known and revered work is not enough to satisfy your thirst for the tenor man and you want more, this isn't bad, and contains some of his best work this side of ‘No Room For Squares’.


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