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Hank Mobley

Hank Mobley
Mobley c. 1956
Background information
Birth name Henry Mobley
Born (1930-07-07)July 7, 1930
Eastman, Georgia, U.S.
Died May 30, 1986(1986-05-30) (aged 55)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Genres Jazz, hard bop, soul jazz
Occupation(s) Composer, saxophonist
Instruments Tenor saxophone
Years active 1949–1986
Labels Blue Note, Prestige, Savoy

Henry "Hank" Mobley (July 7, 1930 – May 30, 1986) was an American hard bop and soul jazz tenor saxophonist and composer. Mobley was described by Leonard Feather as the "middleweight champion of the tenor saxophone", a metaphor used to describe his tone, that was neither as aggressive as John Coltrane nor as mellow as Stan Getz, and his style that was laid-back, subtle and melodic, especially in contrast with players like Sonny Rollins and Coltrane. The critic Stacia Proefrock claimed he is "one of the most underrated musicians of the bop era."[1]


  • Biography 1
  • Discography 2
    • As leader 2.1
    • As sideman 2.2
  • Notes 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Mobley was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, near Newark.[2] When he was 16, an illness kept him in the house for several months. His uncle thought of buying a saxophone to help him occupy his time, and it was then that Mobley began to play. He tried to enter a music school in Newark, but couldn't, since he was not a resident, so he kept studying through books at home. At 19, he started to play with local bands and, months later, worked for the first time with musicians like Dizzy Gillespie and Max Roach.[3] He took part in one of the earliest hard bop sessions, alongside Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Doug Watkins and trumpeter Kenny Dorham. The results of these sessions were released as Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers. They contrasted with the classical inclinations of cool jazz, with Mobley's rich lyricism being bluesier, alongside the funky approach of Silver. When The Jazz Messengers split in 1956, Mobley continued on with pianist Silver for a short time, although he did work again with Blakey some years later, when the drummer appeared on Mobley's albums in the early 1960s.

During the 1960s, he worked chiefly as a leader, recording over 20 albums for Lee Morgan. Mobley is widely recognized as one of the great composers of originals in the hard bop era, with interesting chord changes and room for soloists to stretch out.

Mobley spent a brief time in 1961 with Miles Davis, during the trumpeter's search for a replacement for John Coltrane. He is heard on the album Someday My Prince Will Come (alongside Coltrane, who returned for the recording of two tracks), and some live recordings (In Person: Live at the Blackhawk and At Carnegie Hall). Though considered by some as not having the improvisational fire of Coltrane, Mobley was known for his melodic playing.

Mobley was forced to retire in the mid-1970s due to lung problems. He worked two engagements at the Angry Squire in New York City November 22 and 23, 1985, and January 11, 1986, in a quartet with Duke Jordan and guest singer Lodi Carr a few months before his death from pneumonia in 1986.[5]


As leader

Title Year Label
Hank Mobley Quartet 1955 Blue Note
The Jazz Message of Hank Mobley 1956 Savoy
Mobley's Message 1956 Prestige
Mobley's 2nd Message 1956 Prestige
Jazz Message No. 2 1957 Savoy
Hank Mobley Sextet 1957 Blue Note
Hank Mobley and His All Stars 1957 Blue Note
Hank Mobley Quintet 1957 Blue Note
Hank 1957 Blue Note
Hank Mobley 1957 Blue Note
Curtain Call 1957 Blue Note
Poppin' 1957 Blue Note
Peckin' Time 1958 Blue Note
The Complete Blue Note Hank Mobley Fifties Sessions 1955-58 Mosaic
Soul Station 1960 Blue Note
Roll Call 1960 Blue Note
Workout 1961 Blue Note
Another Workout 1961 Blue Note
No Room for Squares 1963 Blue Note
The Feelin's Good 1963 Blue Note
Straight No Filter 1963 Blue Note
The Turnaround! 1965 Blue Note
Dippin' 1965 Blue Note
A Caddy for Daddy 1965 Blue Note
A Slice of the Top 1966 Blue Note
Hi Voltage 1967 Blue Note
Third Season 1967 Blue Note
Far Away Lands 1967 Blue Note
Reach Out 1968 Blue Note
The Flip 1969 Blue Note
Thinking of Home 1970 Blue Note
Breakthrough! 1972 Muse

As sideman

with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers

with Kenny Burrell

with Donald Byrd

with Sonny Clark

with John Coltrane, Zoot Sims & Al Cohn

with Miles Davis

with Kenny Dorham

with Kenny Drew

with Art Farmer

with Curtis Fuller

with Dizzy Gillespie

with Grant Green

with Johnny Griffin

with Herbie Hancock

with Freddie Hubbard

with J. J. Johnson

with Elvin Jones

with Lee Morgan

  • Savoy, 1956)
  • Lee Morgan Sextet (Blue Note, 1957)
  • Cornbread (Blue Note, 1965)
  • Charisma (Blue Note, 1966)
  • The Rajah (Blue Note, 1966)

with Dizzy Reece

with Freddie Roach

with Rita Reys

with Max Roach

with Archie Shepp

with Horace Silver

with Jimmy Smith

with Julius Watkins


  1. ^ Proefrock, Stacia. "Hank Mobley: Soul Station".  
  2. ^ Steve Huey, "Artist Biography", AllMusic.
  3. ^  
  4. ^ Blumenthal, Bob (1999) [1960]. "A NEW LOOK AT SOUL STATION". Soul Station (The Rudy Van Gelder Edition) (Media notes). Hank Mobley.  
  5. ^ Nelson, Nels (4 June 1986). "Hank Mobley, International Jazz Figure".  



External links

  • Hank Mobley discography at Discogs
  • Hank Mobley at Find a Grave
  • Steve Huey, "Artist Biography", AllMusic.
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