February 11, 2015

Hank Mobley - Roll Call (1961)

This is one of the first jazz albums I heard, and I'm glad I started with something like this (melodic, memorable, and not too adventurous). I really enjoyed it back then, but it doesn't strike me much anymore. Why? This is one of Art Blakey's best appearances, a young Freddie Hubbard does his thing, Wynton Kelly is a boss on piano, and Paul Chambers backs up his good reputation. The dullness comes from Mobley. Hank has had some legendary ballad solos, but he doesn't have the grip to hold me in on these fast hard bop tunes. Even though he tries (fakes) going fast, his delivery is too light, sweet, and slow to fit the mold the rest of his band sets up. This doesn't mean a good hard bop saxophonist absolutely needs to be fast and daring, but Hank is only trying to fit that image, not trying to make his own thing happen with his style.

My thanks go out to this album for getting me into the genre, but now I'm more enticed by a solid handful of other hard bop albums. No hard feelings though, this will stay in my collection and I'll probably revisit it several times a year.


Roll Call