If you’re a music enthusiast, chances are your “favorite” is a moving target–something that changes with the season; perhaps a new release that you predict will turn into a core album for years to come. I’m full of “favorites” that wax and wane. I just had a long discussion with Fletcher from Cities 97 about our personal “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s,” and my answers have changed even since this morning when we spoke.
However, for years I’ve had a steady favorite jazz album of all time, and that album is Hank Mobley’s Soul Station, recorded on this day (February 7) in 1960. Sixty three years ago today, a handful of world- class musicians laid down a record full of amazing performances. I’ll be spinning tracks from the album throughout my shift today, but I wanted to put a highlighter on why this record is so great to me.
Art Blakey – When Art Blakey is the drummer on an album, you can count on copious press rolls and boundless energy–regardless of the tempo of the song. There are drummers that only seem to bring their whole spirit to the game when the song is high energy. Art Blakey only knows high energy. That doesn’t mean he overplays, it just means he puts so much spirit into any type of song that is thrown at him. And when Blakey hits the bell of his ride at about 3:48 of “This I Dig of You”, does it get better than that? I don’t think so.
No Deep Hotel Band Tenor Sax – There’s a caricature-worthy sound of sax that is deep, bluesy, earthy, and a very “jazz musician in a dark corner” kind of vibe that can get tired really fast. If you can think of a random jazz band from a movie that isn’t about jazz, you are probably hearing that style of sax right now. There are tenor players who eschew this sound by being almost antithetical to it. No matter where Coltrane was in the register, the energy rarely came off as “hotel band tenor.” But for me, Hank Mobley and Stanley Turrentine excelled above all others at bringing in the best elements of that tenor sound, without going overboard. Mobley brings an energy into this album that offers so much more in regards to dynamics than your average tenor player.
Song Choices – To me, the originals are the best part of this album. Mobley offered up well-constructed tunes shouting to be played. These songs have such amazing forms, memorable melodies, and beautiful harmonies. Hank Mobley isn’t celebrated as a great jazz writer, but his writing here is world-class. The inclusions of slightly left-of-the-dial standards to open and close the affair make for perfect bookends to this awesome release.
I hope you’ll tune in to today’s Afternoon Cruise to dive into this awesome release.
Thanks for checking this deep dive out! If you have music suggestions, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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