The Triumph Of Dehumanisation

RUDY VAN GELDER –

Blogger Richard Capeless a.k.a. Deep Groove Mono adds an exciting chapter to the book of publications on the legendary engineer Rudy van Gelder. Capeless recently launched the website RVG Legacy, preserving the work of Van Gelder with background stories, equipment analysis and (previously unreleased) pictures in cooperation with the Van Gelder Estate and Van Gelder Studio. See here.

Dubbed ‘an equally important band member’ by the famed Dutch engineer Max Bolleman, it pays to look at the role of the sound engineer in jazz, since it is his work that shapes our appreciation of the artist. Who wants to listen if Freddie Hubbard is buried in a mix of loud cymbals and muffled piano? That’s like eating chili con carne and discovering that the beans have been substituted by gumballs.

A pioneer in close miking and reverberation technique, “The RVG Sound” is synonymous with immediacy, space and a distinctive ‘thick’ piano sound. He made the musicians sound as if they were playing live in your room. In cooperation with Blue Note’s Alfred Lion, Van Gelder created a unique level of authenticity and in effect – almost all of the Blue Note musicians were black – a hard-core and unsurpassed black aesthetic in the world of modern music. Lest we forget, Van Gelder was the engineer on many more labels, including CTI, Impulse, Prestige, Savoy, Regent and Verve and recorded Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan, Art Blakey and Sonny Rollins among many, many others.

Van Gelder, as it goes with ‘artists’, met with critique, notably from Charles Mingus, who said that his uniform sound deprived the musicians of their particular character. But if “The RVG Sound” is indeed considered uniform, it is a triumph of dehumanisation that meets with worldwide enjoyment to this day, and many days to come. Now and then, one hears the quibble that too much attention is focused on Van Gelder at the expense of his contemporaries. Indeed, there have been equally extraordinary engineers, for instance Roy DuNann and Val Valentin, but the truly innovative genius of Van Gelder is beyond dispute.

s-l1600-25

Horace Silver Quintet/Sextet The Jody Grind (Blue Note 1967)

The Jody Grind is the last great record of Horace Silver on Blue Note.

s-l1600-25

Personnel

Horace Silver (piano), Woody Shaw (trumpet), Tyrone Washington (tenor saxophone), James Spaulding (alto saxophone A2, B1 & B2, flute A2), Larry Ridley (bass), Roger Humphries (drums)

Recorded

on November 2 & 23, 1966 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Released

as BST 84250 in 1967

Track listing

Side A:
The Jody Grind
Mary Lou
Mexican Hip Dance
Side B:
Blue Silver
Grease Piece
Dimples


It’s so damn hard to choose between favorite records and bands of the Horace Silver Quintet. His pioneering hard bop group “The Jazz Messengers” of the Horace Silver Quintet featuring Kenny Dorham, Hank Mobley, Doug Watkins and Art Blakey is high on top of the list. Thumps up too for Silver’s group including Blue Mitchell, Junior Cook, Eugene Taylor and Louis Hayes/Roy Brooks. Blowin’ The Blues Away, Horace-Scope, Doin’ The Thing and Song For My Father are generally considered perfect showcases of a leader and band at the top of its game. But what about Further Explorations with Art Farmer and Clifford Jordan… That record may represent the complete synthesis of Silver’s soulful style and clever writing.

Then there’s The Jody Grind. The sleeve, always a principal factor of the charm of Blue Note albums, isn’t very promising. I’m not sure what Horace is thinking, chin resting on his hand, smiling mildly. Hey baby, what’s up with your hands? Headache? Swallowed a blue note? And what’s with the lady on the right? Looking with overrated expertise at an overrated modern painting? I’m not sure what label boss Alfred Lion was thinking. Obviously, designer Reid Miles was out to lunch. And two white birds on one sleeve was a rarity. Up until then, Blue Note had presented the blackest of black jazz, from the music, art work to the market place. Obviously, Blue Note wanted a little bite from the big white cake as well. Anyhow, The Grind cover is square, a far cry from the hip designs with the sassy ladies on Freddie Roach’s Brown Sugar, John Patton’s Oh Baby and Jimmy McGriff’s Electric Funk. Presumably, covers depicting attractive women were good sellers in general, regardless of color, but these swinging sleeves were unsurpassable!

Right?!

To be sure, by the tail end of 1966, Lion was about the leave the company, heading for Mexico and a career as a ‘pensionado’ photographer. In 1967, Blue Note was taken over by Liberty. However, Silver and co-boss Francis Wolff were loyal to each other. The pianist recorded for Blue Note until 1980.

Other than the sleeve, The Jody Grind is a killer. The tunes may not always possess the typical intricate devices of the Silver Stew such as secondary motives and extended chord progressions. But the tunes are infectious and plainly irresistible. The Jody Grind may be a perspicuous attempt at a new Sidewinder hit, but it is a lively boogaloo, Dimples is a smooth and soulful waltz, Blue Silver a tacky and deep-rooted slow blues, Mary Lou a Latin-tinged beauty, Mexican Hip Dance a first-class hip shaker and Grease Piece an overwhelming romp.

Furthermore, the band is crazy. 21-year old Woody Shaw, three years in the major league game since his contribution to Eric Dolphy’s Iron Man and Larry Young’s eponymous Unity, is as mature as few 40-somethings will ever be, his linear development excellent, richness of ideas striking, hotness of his delivery upsetting. Tenor saxophonist Tyrone Washington has similar fire, he’s an edgy player one might place somewhere between Joe Henderson and Booker Ervin and, if perhaps not of equal repute, whose bended, wailin’ notes add considerable flavor to his storytelling. James Spaulding contributes flute, but his moment of glory is a belligerent Coltrane-esque solo on alto sax during Grease Piece.

The secret of The Jody Grind’s succes, to me, is drummer Roger Humphries. Kudos to Humphries, who was also on Song For My Father, and who is a fantastic extension of Louis Hayes, demonstrating a similar mix of accompanying tricks and punch. Punch? Mayhem! During Grease Piece, it is as if Humphries has swallowed two Art Blakey pills and drank one glass of Elvin Jones.

Silver added a number of trademark shout choruses that considerably heighten the tension. His solo of Blue Silver is a marvel of economy and soul.

As you may have noticed, The Jody Grind goes to my head. Winner!

Pete La Roca - Basra

Pete La Roca Basra (Blue Note 1965)

Drummer Pete La Roca delved into exotic modality on his much-admired 1965 record on Blue Note, Basra.

Pete La Roca - Basra

Personnel

Pete La Roca (drums), Joe Henderson (tenor saxophone), Steve Kuhn (piano), Steve Swallow (bass)

Recorded

on May 19, 1965 at Rudy van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Released

as RLP 12-232 in 1956

Track listing

Side A:
Malaguena
Candu
Tears Come From Heaven
Side B:
Basra
Lazy Afternoon
Eiderdown


If I say Pete La Roca you will most likely answer with: Sonny Rollins, Live At The Village Vanguard. Small wonder, since it is his feature on Rollins’ game-changing LP that put him squarely in the vision of the night binoculars of serious jazz fans. Bird watchers may constitute a fanatical breed, blessed with encyclopedic knowledge, waiting patiently in their cabin in the woods. But serious jazz fans are a passionate lot as well. They spot a gem from miles away and will discuss the merit of the “birds” that play on the disc much in the manner of monks pondering over the words of Saint Augustine.

La Roca shared sideman duties on Village Vanguard with the developing genius of Elvin Jones. As the sole accompanist, however, there are plenty of top-notch features that serious jazz fans cough up effortlessy. He played on, for instance, George Russell’s cutting-edge The Outer View, Joe Henderson’s hard bop winner Page One, Jaki Byard’s far-out Hi-Fly, Slide Hampton’s soulful Sister Salvation and Art Farmer’s folk song gem To Sweden With Love.

La Roca recorded only three albums as a leader: Basra, Turkish Women At The Bath (Douglas 1967) and Swingtime (Blue Note 1997). La Roca – born Pete Sims, the pseudonym was made up after years of playing in Latin bands in his birthplace of New York City – was a taxi driver in the 70s. It’s a disgrace that fine black artists as La Roca had to resort to day (or night) jobs, however honorable the menial activity may be. But it must’ve been one swinging cab. La Roca subsequently attended law school at New York University and returned to jazz in 1979. He passed away in 2012 at age 74.

Basra and Turkish Women At The Bath are highly collectible artifacts, acclaimed albums for the wildly ecstatic ‘bird watchers’. With sound reason, it’s a hell of a couple of albums. Turkish Women is impressive experiment, terse complex groove and abstract painting, as much colored perhaps by Chick Corea than LaRoca, though, it must be said, La Roca wrote all originals. (It was released by Muse under Corea’s name as Bliss, which La Roca successfully fought in court) Basra is progressive mid-sixties Blue Note, on par with the records of Bobby Hutcherson, Herbie Hancock, Jackie McLean, adventurous with a keen sense of the past. It’s a sleeper for the general audience, a winner for the birdwatchers. And it features a number of interesting feathered creatures: tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson, pianist Steve Kuhn and bassist Steve Swallow.

Both Malaguena and Basra are one-chord (Spanish and Eastern-flavored) drones resting on the fantastic, loose-but-solid drumming from La Roca. Either the man’s got a hip approach to the snare drum or his engineers were in continuous top form, but I’ve heard a lot a awesome drums sounds from La Roca. His snare drum is the Crisp of Crispiness, a healthy slap in the face, cocky like a 42nd Street hustler and wide like the open spaces of East Texas. Joe Henderson is comfortable with the exotic groove, his patiently timed clusters of grunts, growls and bellows on the drone admirable. Henderson whirls lines around the chord like the way a snake charmer directs the movement of the reptile on the streets of Manila or Punjab. He really creeps deep into the vessels of the groove. Candu is loose-jointed blues, Tears Come From Heaven a crisp modal romp, Eiderdown a dark-hued Wayne Shorter-ish melody, Lazy Afternoon a piece of slow-moving ambience with a leading role for the impressionistic Steve Kuhn.

Sometimes the rebellious La Roca hits his polyrhythm as hard and wide as Elvin. Can you imagine?! It’s that kind of excellence and power driving Basra, coupled with the Rudy van Gelder touch, that has for many years now caused the bird watchers to drop their binoculars in awe.

Wayne Shorter - Night Dreamer

Wayne Shorter Night Dreamer (Blue Note 1964)

After all these years, the dark-hued adventures of Wayne Shorter on Blue Note have lost nothing of their mysterious charm.

Wayne Shorter - Night Dreamer

Personnel

Wayne Shorter (tenor saxophone), Lee Morgan (trumpet), McCoy Tyner (piano), Reggie Workman (bass), Elvin Jones (drums)

Recorded

on April 29, 1964 at Rudy van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Released

as BLP 4173 in 1964

Track listing

Side A:
Night Dreamer
Oriental Folk Song
Virgo
Side B:
Black Nile
Charchoal Blues
Armageddon


Dutch bassist and jazz scholar Hans Mantel once asked Wayne Shorter if he was conscious of creating stone-cold classic albums on Blue Note in the sixties. The tenor and soprano saxophonist’s answer was: ‘What you young cats must realize is, is that we made our records to pay our rent!’

Gold coins from the Byzantine period fade into insignificance compared with the run of Blue Note platters by Wayne Shorter. The tenor and soprano saxophonist, best known by the general public for his role in the Second Great Quintet of Miles Davis and fusion group Weather Report, still going strong today as ‘the greatest living jazz composer’, started off his stretch on Blue Note as a leader with Night Dreamer in 1964. It preceded the perennial favorites and classic albums Juju and Speak No Evil.

Significantly, Shorter’s debuting run of albums on VeeJay in the late fifties and early sixties consisted almost solely of original compositions. As part of Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers from 1959-64, Shorter also contributed a slew of fresh, exciting tunes. Furthermore, the Newark, New Jersey-born saxophonist showed his prowess as an original tenor man. As the years went by in the acclaimed and propulsive Blakey outfit, Shorter’s solo’s grew more explorative and explosive. His roaring tale during the rousing modal Shorter composition Free For All is plain crazy. A raid of hand granates kicked back by Blakey in equally tempestuous fashion. Shorter carried over that vibe to Night Dreamer, drawing on the energy of another legendary drummer, Elvin Jones. He stretches his limits song-wise, presenting a set of haunting compositions that are unusually structured but nevertheless flow effortlessly like the meandering side branches of the Euphrates or Tigris.

Where to begin? Any song writer would’ve been happy to deliver the moody melodies of Oriental Folk Song and Virgo. However, the key pieces are Night Dreamer, Black Nile and Armageddon. The whole package – structure, mood, energy, interaction – is perfectly balanced, like an essential performance of a Mozart symphony, with the remarkable difference, the ultimate feat that distinguished jazz from any other music form, that the core of Night Dreamer is spontaneous improvisation.

The album features trumpeter Lee Morgan, Shorter’s frontline partner of The Jazz Messengers, bassist Reggie Workman and the powerhouse duo that was part of the epic John Coltrane Quartet, pianist McCoy Tyner and drummer Elvin Jones. Masterclass of depth and hard swing guaranteed. The pushing and pulling of the beat and wide open spaces of Elvin Jones and the extravagant and tasteful piano excursions of McCoy Tyner cannot fail to be a stimulus to original reed and brass players like Shorter and Morgan. Shorter is a dark prince lurking in the shadows, occasionally darting out of the corner, growling ominously, reciting ancient poetry, the stanzas streaming out of his mouth like wine from a bottle: enigma. Morgan is the florid touch, hard bop royalty, weaving in and out of modal spheres fluently, shooting multiple straight arrows, cocky and convincing: brilliant sleaze. He’s the uplifting opposite of Shorter, who is a demon driving away demons.

Shorter’s sound may not be as characteristic as the tone of great contemporaries or past masters but his compositions never cease to amaze. The nocturnal Night Dreamer hinges on the subtle balance of relative chordal simplicity and depth of feeling and the suave and surprising storytelling by Shorter. The relentless drive is one of many striking aspects of the modal cooker Black Nile. The long, beautiful lines of Armageddon contrast with the booming in-your-face rhythm, the furious rolls and switch of polyrhythm to explosive shuffle groove by Elvin Jones. Expressiveness is the focus of a composition with a minimum of subtly moving chords. Shorter and Morgan rise to the occasion.

The mood nocturnal, with a sense of foreboding and inner turmoil that’s crystallized in a curious state of serenity, Night Dreamer is akin to Herbie Hancock’s Empyrean Isles and Andrew Hill’s Judgement. The avant-leaning catalogue of Blue Note, that daring mid-sixties series of albums from Shorter, Hancock, Hill, McLean and Hutcherson that require repeated listening. Label boss Alfred Lion gave his roster of adventurous talents free reign, very insightful from the legendary independent record executive. To boot, Lion even paid for rehearsal time. And so, in a way, for the rent of the Shorter family’s apartment somewhere deep in the bowels of The Big Apple.

Dizzy Reece - Soundin' Off

Dizzy Reece Soundin’ Off (Blue Note 1960)

The pieces of the puzzle fell into place for trumpeter Dizzy Reece on his third Blue Note album Soundin’ Off from 1960.

Dizzy Reece - Soundin' Off

Personnel

Dizzy Reece (trumpet), Walter Bishop Jr. (piano), Doug Watkins (bass), Art Taylor (drums)

Recorded

on May 12, 1960 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey

Released

as BLP 4033 in 1960

Track listing

Side A:
Ghost Of A Chance
Once In A While
Eb Pob
Side B:
Yesterdays
Our Love Is Here To Stay
Blue Streak


Mr. Reece is still active these days at the ripe old age of 88. What’s more, performances of Dizzy Reece’s music, Routes In Jazz, have been held last January under the leadership of Trevor Watkins in the United Kingdom to much acclaim. 2019, Cool Britannia caught in the stereotypical web of contemporary polarization, a world away from 1948, when the young Kingston, Jamaica-born Reece set foot first in liberated Paris then the rebuilding war victor, the U.K., where fish and chips was everyone’s requested Last Meal and Stoke-On-Trent a place that played hide and seek with Sheffield under clouds of factory smoke. The talented Reece somehow caught the attention of Blue Note and recorded his debut as a leader, Blues In Trinity, with Donald Byrd, Art Taylor and a British crew including powerhouse tenorist Tubby “Tubbs” Hayes.

Reece moved to New York City in 1959 and, winning fans like Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins, soon found himself in the studio of Rudy van Gelder at Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. Initially, Reece recorded with a quintet including Hank Mobley, a session that spawned Star Bright. Then Blakey was behind the kit, Stanley Turrentine on tenor saxophone, Bobby Timmons on piano and Jimmy Merritt on bass. The result: Comin’ On, recorded in 1960 but not released until 1999. Great album. Great line-up. In fact – in case you haven’t figured it out yet – Reece and Turrentine fronted a bonafide Jazz Messengers rhythm section. The explosive Blakey regularly pushes the guys to the brink, Reece holding his own pretty darn well.

However, I have warmer feelings for Soundin’ Off. The relaxed but probing rhythmic flow of drummer Art Taylor, bassist Doug Watkins and pianist Walter Bishop Jr. and the fact that Reece is the sole horn gives the trumpeter ample opportunity to let his true voice ring. A voice gay here, mournful there, tender, witty, sexy. Sexy enough to seduce audiences in the Big Apple, yet because of lack of opportunities Reece re-settled in jazz-minded Europe eventually. In a 2004 Jazz Times interview Reece said that he also got negative feedback on his integrated marriage.

Reece favors expressive statements over speed trials, wrapping his loving arms around ballads like Ghost Of A Chance, ridin’ on the blue notes of Once In A While with sleazy slurs, swinging smoothly on medium-tempo tunes like the Monk-ish Reece original Eb PobEcaroh, Airegin, Eb Pob… Those modern jazz guys knew their way with wordplay. The nimble and occasionally locked-hands-lines of Bishop Jr. and the jubilant Reece make Yesterdays absolutely irresistible.

Sweet but with a lot of spunk. The way we like our hard bop artists from the Blue Note roster.

The album is part of a compilation package on Spotify, starts with track 13, up to 18. Listen below.

Lee Morgan - The Cooker

Lee Morgan The Cooker (Blue Note 1957)

Just twenty-years of age, Lee Morgan came into his own as a leader on his 1957 album The Cooker.

Lee Morgan - The Cooker

Personnel

Lee Morgan (trumpet), Pepper Adams (baritone saxophone), Bobby Timmons (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), Philly Joe Jones (drums)

Recorded

on September 29, 1957 at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey

Released

as BLP 1578 in 1958

Track listing

Side A:
Night In Tunesia
Heavy Dipper
Side B:
Just One Of Those Things
Lover Man
New-Ma


To be sure, the young lion had already arrived as one of the hottest cats on the scene. Two weeks prior to the September 29 session of The Cooker, Morgan played on John Coltrane’s Blue Train session on September 15. Nice work if you can get it. That summer, Morgan had played his last gigs with the Dizzy Gillespie band, which he had been part of since the spring of 1956, appearing on Dizzy In Greece, Birks’ Works and Dizzy Gillespie At Newport. Around that time, tenor saxophonist Benny Golson recommended the Philadelphians Lee Morgan, pianist Bobby Timmons and bassist Jimmy Merritt to Art Blakey, whose career could use a boost. The rest is history. Morgan played with The Jazz Messengers from 1958 to ’61 and 1964 to ’65, contributing to landmark albums as Moanin’ and Meet You At The Jazz Corner Of The World. The Cooker already was Morgan’s sixth album as a leader, his fifth for Blue Note, preceded by City Lights and followed by Candy. On the preceding albums many of the tunes were written by expert tunesmith Benny Golson. The Cooker presents the first Morgan compositions on wax: Heavy Dipper, a long flowing melody which shows the influence of Golson, a very swinging tune. And New-Ma, a mid-tempo blues with a twist, a tune that begs to be played by Ray Charles, a feat that naturally values the song as highly recommended.

Make this one of those albums to put on if you, like Art Blakey so many years hence, need a boost. Leave that Red Bull be, sugar kills, jazz feeds. Morgan and baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams absolutely deliver food for the soul, the pairing of Morgan’s buoyant, hip and urgent style with Adams’s husky, dynamic baritone playing is a meeting of high and low registers in creamy, relaxed themes that’s very satisfying. Then there’s Philly Joe Jones, crips, dirty, probing. A fast take of Just One Of Those Things has Philly Joe nudging Morgan with propulsive ride cymbalism, sparse snare rolls and feathered bass, subsequently stoking up the fire and seducing Morgan to turn in blistering hot runs. Such a pleasant stay ensembles have in front of Philly Joe Jones’s kit. Like gliding above the Alps on the wings of a hawk.

Timmons’s crafty blues tale during the ballad Lover Man makes tasteful use of space and silence. Silence, it must be noted, is of equal importance in jazz than the notes. Paul Chambers sounds delighted, embellishing the loping tempo of the ballad’s middle section with fat, exquisite phrases. Pepper Adams bops hard, evoking Charlie Parker in Just One Of Those Things. Lee Morgan is thrilling throughout and killer bee during Night In Tunesia, the album’s highlight. Stimulated by the sparkling cross-rhythmic groove of Jones and Chambers, which only occasionally gives in to the release of a 4/4 section, Morgan’s entrance cracks nuts, whereupon Morgan joyfully excurses into a elongated section of double time. He ends with a honky-tonky coda that’s beautiful for its simplicity.

Morgan the ultimate cooker on trumpet? Convince me of the contrary. Regardless of some low points in his life due to his reckless drug abuse, he would keep burnin’ until that fateful day in 1972, when his common-law wife Helen Morgan fatally wounded the trumpeter by a gunshot at Slugs’ Saloon in New York City.

BLP 5066, USA 1955

Hank Mobley Quartet (Blue Note 1955)

With a little help from his Jazz Messengers pals, Hank Mobley turned in a top form performance on his debut as a leader, Hank Mobley Quartet.

BLP 5066, USA 1955
BLP 5066, USA 1955

Personnel

Hank Mobley (tenor saxophone), Horace Silver (piano), Doug Watkins (bass), Art Blakey (drums)

Recorded

on March 27, 1955 at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, New Jersey

Released

as BLP 5066 in 1955

Track listing

Side A:
Hank’s Prank
My Sin
Avila And Tequila
Side B:
Walkin’ The Fence
Love For Sale
Just Coolin’


When Hank Mobley recorded his 10inch debut album as a leader in March 27, 1955, the tenor saxophonist had six albums as a sideman under his belt. Max Roach’ Featuring Hank Mobley (Debut 1953) was followed by Dizzy Gillespie’s Afro, Dizzy And Strings and Jazz Recital (Norgran 1954), French horn player Julius Watkins’ Julius Watkins Sextet (Blue Note, March 20, 1955) and Horace Silver’s Horace Silver And The Jazz Messengers (Blue Note, Feb. 6, 1955) The latter (essential) album found Mobley at the helm of the hard bop movement with pioneers Art Blakey and Horace Silver. Blakey and Silver, along with bassist Doug Watkins, assist Mobley on Quartet.

Quartet, 27 minutes of music released on 10inch, is not Soul Station, Roll Call or Workout, albums that signified Mobley as the epitome of hard bop tenor saxophone. It does already showcase a fully-formed style. The round, silken yet smoky tone, slightly behind-the-beat time, relaxed flowing stories, the tension being built up effortlessly, the inherent blues. That’s the sound and the style of a smooth operator. Women gravitate to him naturally like summer flies to a cocktail… See him sitting and chatting at the bar, a man of few words, a mix of authority and vulnerability, level-headedness and flamboyance, a far cry from machismo… a handsome cat but the anti-thesis of the placid, scrubbed clerk, instead walking around with a stub from Monday night at the Village Vanguard to Friday night at the Five Spot.

Mobley, a prolific writer of clever and catchy tunes, turns in five out of six original compositions on Quartet. The repertoire, albeit still largely grounded in bebop, benefits from the new possibilities for jazz that Silver, Blakey, Miles Davis, Lou Donaldson found in rhythm, pace, tempo and the roots of jazz. The steam of Blakey during Hank’s Prank must’ve filled up the little legendary Hackensack studio room of engineer Rudy van Gelder like the fog filling up a Tennessee back porch.

Few ride the waves of the Blakey beat with the unhurried drive of Hank Mobley. Mobley’s story is a vivacious package of phrases kickstarted by crisp, surprising entrances. The standard tune of the set, Love For Sale, has such a typically splendid entrance. Mobley’s ensuing solo swings effortlessly, resonant lines biting each other’s tales in perfectly logical fashion. The tight-knit, fiery ‘Messengers rhythm section’ flies through Walkin’ The Fence, a composition that resembles Charlie Parker’s Now’s The Time, which Horace Silver quotes in one of his tasty, sparse, down-home statements.

Why Quartet didn’t turn out to be Quintet with the logical inclusion of trumpeter Kenny Dorham, Mobley’s legendary frontline pal of the Messengers, is perhaps due to the simple fact that Dorham was out of town. Their ensemble playing was something special. But Mobley is doing ok by himself, carries his debut album with grace and authority.


Post scriptum: why did Francis Wolff, famed co-owner and photographer of Blue Note, place a pic of Hank Mobley on the sleeve with his face half-hidden in the shadow? And do it again on Horace Silver’s first epic Messengers album? (including Hank Mobley) Another BIG NERDY question: why did United Artists headquarters, which had taken over Blue Note in 1970, leave out the ‘curly smoke line-up’ coming out of Mobley’s mouthpiece on the sleeve of their 1975 pressing? It looked so awfully cool. A case, perhaps, for London Jazz Collector’s Vinyl Detective. The classic jazz and vinyl website, by the way, published a revealing article on the evolution of 10inch to 12inch in 2015, including Hank Mobley Quartet, see here.

PSII: Poor Mr. Silver’s face not only lurks in dark corners, the dog is about to chew him to pieces as well.