David Royko Psy.D

david@davidroyko.com

Mobley ‘n’ Mozart

 

August 1 1998
Michael Z. writes:
>Third Season is also a lot of fun.
>I think Mobley hasn't been given enough credit for his writing and
>arranging.

Boy, I could not agree more. I have come to Hank Mobley pretty late in my jazz-listening life. Not to say I didn't own a handful of Mobley recordings, mainly a few Blue Notes and plenty of sideman appearances. But I just didn't love him all that much, and in fact disparaged him plenty.

Don't ask me what did it, but over the last year or so I have become addicted to his sound, approach to improvising, compositions, and his recordings in general. Where I used to think Soul Station, for example, was just OK, I now hear it (as many do) as one of the best jazz recordings I own. The elegant swing and gentle yet assertive tone of Mobley on this and other sessions simply send me into heaven. Needless to say, I've been hording his recordings big time lately. If anyone has an extra U.S. CD copy of "Straight No Filter," I'd love to buy it (yeah, I know, get in line).

It's actually pretty similar to my eventual Mozart revelation, where for many, many years I simply heard Mozart as pretty but lightweight, compared to the obvious depths of Beethoven and many others. But once the light went on and I heard the extraordinary depths beneath and woven into the perfect surface, it was life-altering. Like conductor Josef Kripps said, "Beethoven strives for heaven, Mozart lives there," and in a way, I think that line can be applied to Mobley as compared to some of the obvious giants ("Coltrane [or whoever] strives for heaven, Mobley lives there").

And what perfect timing, Mosaic does a 50s Mobley box! . . .which arrived yesterday. Haven't gotten past the first several tracks of the first disc yet (music I'm not familiar with yet), but so far it sounds great, and Blumenthal's notes are excellent--no surprise from him.

Dave Royko