The Best of Hank Mobley?????

Our friends at the Jazz Record Center have a very nice auction underway now, including: Hank Mobley, Soul Station, Blue Note 4031. This looks to be an original West 63rd Street pressing, probably in M- condition for the record and VG++ for the cover. The bidding is in the $700 range as I type this, and I would expect the final price to be quite a bit higher, much closer to the $2,000 bin. This is a record that I never owned in original condition until i was fortunate enough to get a copy in the Bruce M. West Baltimore collection four years ago (has it really been four years?). Anyway, like a lot of the records in that collection, I put them on the shelves and promised myself I would get around to listening to them one day. And, a few nights ago, I finally kept my promise with Hank Mobley Soul Station. And it was quite a revelation.

I must confess, I am not as into Mobley as many of my readers here at Jazz Collector. I’ve always liked him, but as a tenor player I never put him on the same level as Coltrane, Rollins, Gordon or Getz, so, when it came time to listen, I would typically put on one of my favorites. I’d listen occasionally to his records as a leader, but more often I’d listen to him as a sideman on Blakey records or Donald Byrd, A New Perspective, or Lee Morgan records.  So, I’m not as familiar with his records as a leader, from a listening standpoint, as I am of some of the other tenor players. I mean, I have really strong opinions and knowledge about all of the Coltrane and Rollins records from their primes, as well as a range of other artists, including Miles, Dexter Gordon, Clifford Brown and a few others. Mobley, not so much.

Well, I was listening to Soul Station the other day thinking, “Man this is a fucking great. “It’s really nice to hear Mobley in a quartet setting, and what a quartet it is, one that you would not typically see together: Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers and Art Blakey. Blakey was not doing a lot of sideman gigs in those days, and Kelly and Chambers are always spectacular. The whole record was a revelation and I started thinking: “Is this Mobley’s best record as a leader?” And, of course, being ignorant myself, I have no answer to that question. But, I have no doubt there are several of you out there with very strong opinions, so I will pose the question: “What are your favorite Mobley records as a leader?”

27 comments

  • My favourite Mobley’s are with Miles on the Blackhawk recordings.
    Kees.

  • As a leader I prefer Mobley Message and 2nd Message on Prestige.
    Kees.

  • My number one is BLP 1544

  • Soul Station is number one on my list for sure. I still don’t get why his earlier releases go for such high dollar.

  • 2nd Message would be my pick, but that could be influenced by additional exposure.

  • Soul Station
    No Room For Squares
    Roll Call

    All tip-top.

  • Jazz Message 2 on Savoy is a very beautiful album that doesn’t show up on the radar that often, certainly one of my favorites

  • Gonna’ throw a curveball …. I truly believe A Caddy For Daddy is the birthplace of FUNK. the birth year of 1965 is the time jazz turned the corner. Everyone is at their peak. Please do your ears a favor and listen to the album that changed the sound of music.

  • Agree with Mr. A. K. re a Caddy for Daddy. The cover alone is a gem.
    And of course the ultimate hip lp title No Room for Squares.

  • I`m the same guy who wrote a post on April 11, 2016 about my jazz-record buying experience in Tokyo. Well I`m back and just purchased an original mono Soul Station off the wall at Disk Union Jazz Tokyo Store. Apparently, they`d just had a huge sale like a year ago. BLP 4031 was still on the wall when I arrived. The condition was NM for the vinyl and M- for the sleeve, which was covered in thin wrap but unsealed. This bears a question I have for you readers:

    Would you remove the thin wrap or not? Could it risk leaving residue on the jacket? I, for one, enjoy looking at and feeling the laminated cover. I`m not thinking about the future price I could get when selling it. And yes, I think Soul Station is his best record.

  • From a pure technical standpoint, I’d go with Soul Station, but Hank 1560 is a very close second in my opinion.

    Jim

  • A Caddy for Daddy The best 1965 jazz album. A definite and successful journey into Funk

  • BLP 1544, though a-typical.

  • My number one is Blue Note 1544.

  • Soul Station is a 5 star record. However, my favorite Mobley record is A Slice of the Top, with arrangements by Duke Pearson, written when Mobley was incarcerated and not issued during Mobley’s lifetime. In a late interview, when Mobley was embittered, he mentions the other sessions he recorded, and presciently notes that BN won’t release them until he is dead. Here is the link: http://hankmobley.jazzgiants.net/biography/mobley-interview/

  • i haven’t heard too many, because i try not to listen too much before i buy, and mobleys aren’t getting bought too often around here due to the prices, but i do enjoy what i’ve heard of 1568 quite a bit. i had to listen to that to see what all the fuss is about. i do think it’s quite good. but i speak from a place of ignorance, mostly.

  • Stuart: The original DG W.63rd release of Soul Station like all Blue Note releases at that time had no outer wrap. The non DG “Liberty era” W.63rd pressing was shrink wrapped at the factory.
    As long as the thin wrap isn’t too tight, leaving it on could help preserve the cover but if/when you go to sell it you can’t honestly describe it as being in “the original shrink”. None of the original 1st pressings were released as such.

  • No Room for Squares – A1… it´s for the lonely Island.

    But don´t forget his 10´ 5066… ( quartet recording under his leadership ). Is it the same level as Soul Stadion?
    I wonder each time hearing it

  • No Room for Squares
    Hank

  • My first comment here, after years of lurking. Mobley tickles my musical senses, so I couldn’t help myself.

    My favorite of his may be Soul Station, mostly because there’s a lot of Coltrane in there (more focus on melodic than harmonic ideas and Mobley’s attempt at modes), but I’m also a huge fan of No Room for Squarers and even his earlier releases for Blue Note’s 1500 series. I think 1568 is somewhat overrated, considering the prices it fetches on eBay (although the sleeve art alone may be worth the investment, it’s one of my favorite BN covers and I’d love to blow it up for a full size poster), but 1560 is an incredible record with a lot of funk in it.

  • Senor Blues, with Horace (BN 1539)

  • I’ll put in a vote for Workout. Also one of my favorite Blue Note covers.

  • A couple of curve balls for you. Reach Out under his own name and Cornbread for sideman plus I agree with Kees on Miles at the Blackhawk ( later CD release so you can all he had to offer )

  • Woody, I appreciate your expertise. My Soul Station mono has DG, W.63rd, RVG and the ear on both sides. I am befuddled as to why it has this outer wrap. Even with all these indicators of an Original pressing, is it possible that it is NOT? I paid a ton of money for BLP 4031 at Disk Union – a very reputable company here in Japan. However, might I have been taken to the cleaner?

  • Stuart, if it has the identifiers you mention it’s a first pressing, no doubt about it. It was probably sealed by a vendor at some later point and opened by whoever bought it. Occasionally Plastylite-era Blue Notes show up in tight shrink; I have a copy of Cool Struttin’ that came in it but is by all appearances an early second press (47 West on labels and laminated cover with no INC, ear, DG both sides, no R and INC side 1).

  • Stuart, sorry, no, although Blue Note lps weren’t shrink wrapped during manufacturing the outer wrap itself doesn’t have any bearing on the manufacturing date. There were companies that specialized in acquiring and repackaging unsold store stock and returns.
    Some of these companies used shrink wrap machines as having a protective clear outer bag became the norm.
    You may not believe it but there was a time when you couldn’t give away a mono pressing.
    In the late 90’s I spent a lot of time helping out Red Carraro, a local jazz dealer, load in and out of record fairs/shows. If you knew Red, he was a great storyteller.
    One of my favorites was how in the sixties as Mono sales were tanking he would run around town buying up unwanted mono Blue Note titles for $1 each. Red would drive into Manhattan for work and before heading home he would buy as many copies as he could fit into his trunk. He befriended record store owners who were grateful to be able to unload unwanted “mono” stock (I know, I know, sigh).
    Unfortunately by the time I met Red these were all loooong gone.

  • Thank you gentlemen. I feel reassured that what I have is indeed a first pressing.

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