Sunday, December 23, 2018

"My Groove, Your Move" - The Music of Hank Mobley 10.29.1990 - Part 1 - Program

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

"Hank was always special to me. His lyricism as a player and writer really attracted me. When I was trying to learn how to play, I spent a lot of time listening to Hank. Out there in Spokane I didn't have any music to look at, all I had were my records. His solos were so melodic. It wouldn't take too many listenings before I could start humming his lines along with him. He was always with the chord progression. Whenever I couldn't figure out the harmonies by just listening, I would transcribe Hank's solo. Then I would be able to figure out the harmonic progression."
- Don Sickler, trumpet, arranger, producer

As a memoriam to Hank Mobley and his music, on Monday, October 29, 1990, Don Sickler with the assistance of Kimberly Ewing produced "My Groove, Your Move" - The Music of Hank Mobley” which was performed at the Weill Recital Hall located in Carnegie Hall in New York City.

A special program and booklet was given to the audience in attendance that evening and thanks to the generosity of Grammy Award winning author and critic Bob Blumenthal, the editorial staff at JazzProfiles, as part of our quest to uncover and represent as much about Hank and his music as possible on these pages, is able to bring you a facsimile of these documents in the form of this blog posting .

This is rare memorabilia about Hank Mobley, an all-but-forgotten artist who was deserving of so much more recognition both as an original stylist on tenor saxophone and as one of the significant composer of many modern Jazz standards.

© -Don Sickler, copyright protected; all rights reserved.


Hank Mobley - Composer

“Hank Mobley was a prolific and extremely talented composer. From an examination of the discography in the attached program, you'll see that Hank contributed many compositions to his own sessions. He also contributed compositions to albums when he was a sideman, as well as to sessions in which he did not perform. All in all, to date, I've found over 140 titles recorded.

Hank took full advantage of the opportunities he had to write for different artists. Each of the musicians he played with had an individual voice on his instrument, and Hank wrote music that would get the best out of each of them. He told me he always tried to tailor each piece to the musicians who would be playing it. His musical insight and the path of his career thus produced a remarkable body of work that conveys a joyful sense of swinging well-being.

So you can see that selecting the compositions for tonight's performance was not an easy task. I first decided to limit the concert to compositions that Hank either wrote for his own albums as a leader, or that he wrote for the Jazz Messengers. Next I re-listened to all of those albums, attempting to come up with a balance of material. It soon became exasperating: the more I listened, the longer my list got. After regretfully eliminating many great titles, yet finding still too many on my list, I decided to try a new approach.
I selected compositions I felt were essential to convey the depth and variety of Hank's creative composing talents. Obviously, if everyone soloed on each arrangement, we'd only have time for a few compositions. Therefore I decided to limit the number of soloists on each composition. This, coupled with a medley approach from time to time, should let us present many of your favorite Hank Mobley compositions.

Obviously, there are some drawbacks to this scheme, and Hank would have been the first to insist that each soloist must have sufficient space to express himself. Don't worry, that's still the plan. If there are some lengthy musical discussions, there won't be time to play all the compositions listed in the program. However, just in case, I've made the musicians rehearse all the material.

I hope this approach will be rewarding both for the performers and for you, the audience. Since I don't think anything like this has been tried before, we'll only know at the end of the concert how successful my plan was.
Whatever happens, I know I speak for all the musicians in saying that we've had a lot of fun playing Hank's music, and we hope you leave here humming his melodies. I also hope that hearing this presentation will encourage you, discography in hand, to seek out and listen to Hank perform his own compositions on the various records and CDs that are now available. Once you do, you'll not only have the pleasure of hearing his great melodies and harmonies, but you'll also be reminded of the power and cohesiveness of his solos and the lyric beauty of his sound.

Many of Hank's friends felt that his own opinion of himself didn't match reality. He didn't see himself as others saw him: a major composing talent and a unique and important voice on tenor. If he were here tonight, I hope he'd see himself through your eyes and ears and judge himself differently”.

Clifford Jordan, tenor saxophone

Clifford met Hank Mobley when both were working in New York in the 1950s. During the late fifties both Clifford and Hank worked frequently with the bands of Horace Silver and Max Roach. "Hank was playing with the Jazz Messengers, then Horace formed his group and Hank went with Horace. After Sonny Rollins quit Max he recommended me for the band. So I played with Max two or three or four weeks and then Max and Horace made a switch. Max took Hank because Kenny Dorham was playing trumpet, and I wasn't alt that experienced with playing ensembles. .. so to make the band sound better they said, 'Well, we'll put Hank in there and Cliff. . . with Art Farmer.’  So that's how I started playing with Art Farmer—in Horace's band."
During that time Jordan recorded the album Cliff Jordan for the Blue Note label. Curtis Fuller and Art Taylor were sidemen on that session. Clifford has worked and recorded with J.J. Johnson, Charles Mingus, Andrew Hill, Randy Weston, the other members of the "My Groove, Your Move" ensemble and many others, as well as leading and recording with his own groups.

Don Sickler, trumpet

Don spent his first 23 years in Spokane, Washington. Since coming to New York, he has developed a multi-faceted career, combining playing the trumpet (his recording credits include Philly Joe Jones’ DAMERONIA,  The Music of Kenny Dorham, SUPERBLUE and BiRDOLOGY), arranging (#1 in Downbeat's latest critics' poll for Arranger ), publication and record producing, and conducting. Don is also a music publisher specializing in jazz. His companies Second Floor Music (BMI) and Twenty-Eighth Street Music (ASCAP) together protect and develop the music of over 100 composers, including that of Hank Mobley.

Don met Hank in New York in the 1970s, and the two worked on several projects involving Hank's music. Hank's death in 1986 cut short the
realization of some of those dreams. Don hopes that this retrospective will focus attention on Hank and his music, and help create a climate where his music can flourish.

"Hank was always special to me. His lyricism as a player and writer really attracted me. When I was trying to learn how to play, I spent a lot of time listening to Hank. Out there in Spokane I didn't have any music to look at, all I had were my records. His solos were so melodic. It wouldn't take too many listenings before I could start humming his lines along with him. He was always with the chord progression. Whenever I couldn't figure out the harmonies by just listening, I would transcribe Hank's solo. Then I would be able to figure out the harmonic progression."

Curtis Fuller, trombone

Curtis first heard Hank Mobley in 1954, when Hank was with Dizzy Gillespie’s sextet, and Curtis, then barely twenty, was a private in the U.S. Army and playing with Cannonball Adderley's legendary Army Dance Band. It was Mobley's tone that made the strongest impression on the young trombonist. "He had that pretty, warm sound," Curtis recalls, "I mean, it was so fluid. He had good control, for a youngster. You wonder where a guy that young could have learned that kind of control," Having recognized in Mobley a kindred musical spirit, Fuller introduced himself, and the two became "instant friends."

Following his discharge in 1956, Fuller returned to his native Detroit, where he jammed with Mobley whenever Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers came to town. In 1957 Fuller left Detroit to come to New York, where he soon started recording regularly, both as a sideman and as a leader.

Curtis and Hank recorded a total of seven albums together, two under Curtis' name (The Opener for Blue Note and one for United Artists), a Sonny Clark date for Blue Note, the two Monday Night At Birdland LPs for Roulette, the two-drummer Elvin Jones/Philly Joe Jones date for Atlantic and Hank's
A Caddy For Daddy for Blue Note.

Cedar Walton, piano

Cedar came to New York in 1955. He met Hank Mobley that same year at a regular jam session at Ken Carp's loft in the East 20s. "Hank looked studious — with his glasses on," explains Walton, "although he seemed to have a mischievous nature, too. I always thought this mischievous side was especially revealed in his solos." Shortly after meeting Mobley, Cedar was drafted into the army. After his discharge. Cedar recorded with Kenny Dorham, then played in J.J. Johnson's group and the Jazztet. From 1961 64 he was a member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers.

Walton has performed and recorded frequently with the members of the "My Groove, Your Move" concert ensemble. He was a Jazz Messenger with Curtis Fuller. He recorded with Art Farmer in 1965, then again in the mid-seventies. He and Billy Higgins have been playing together for years, performing in the Magic Triangle band with Clifford Jordan and most recently, with Buster Williams and Curtis Fuller, touring and recording as members of the Timeless All Stars.

Cedar and Hank worked together many times in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In February 1972 they collaborated again, also with Billy Higgins, on what was to be Hank's last recording. "I love Hank's composing," says Cedar, "he mixes intellect with a very natural basic feel that gives the tunes a special flowing, sometimes daring, but always sensible character. He is one of the most ingenious composers in modern Jazz. I'm very proud to be a part of this tribute to his creativity."

Billy Higgins, drummer

Billy is one of the most widely recorded drummers in jazz. There is no way anyone who is alive can sit in front of Higgins while he is playing and not feel good.

During the 1960s Billy Higgins was one of the house drummers for Blue Note Records. Billy and Hank, who also had a close association with Blue Note during this time, often joined forces In the recording studio and on the bandstand. They recorded together on a total of fourteen LPs between 1965 and 1972. Between recordings, they could be heard live in various venues around New York's Greenwich Village:

Toward the end of 1963," Billy remembers "we worked at a few places on 1st Avenue, a few coffeehouses and one particular place called the White Whale on 10th Street near 4th Avenue. We worked in a band that also had Jackie McLean, Tommy Turrentine and Sonny Clark. When Slugs first opened up we worked there with Kenny Dorham in the band.

"While the Blue Note recordings were happening we were working in different combinations. Sometimes we had a band featuring Hank and Lee [Morgan], then we would have Hank and Kenny Dorham and sometimes Donald Byrd. We had a band at the Five Spot with Donald Byrd and Sonny Red. From night to night Hank was just— whew! Hank was incredible. But him and Kenny Dorham together— those cats were just IN-CRED-I-BLE! They were really special."

Buster Williams, bass

Buster is unquestionably one of the giants of the double bass. His 30 years of professional bass playing have included work with such jazz luminaries as Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey, Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock, Chet Baker, Woody Shaw and McCoy Tyner.

"When I first came to New York, Hank was one of my idols. We met around 1963 at a soul food spot called Cozy's on 125th Street & 8th, that was 12 seats long. Lee [Morgan] used to come in there with Hank and Bobby [Timmons]. Hank liked the way I played and I liked the way he played. A lot of times he would say 'Hey Bus, what are you doing next Wednesday? I got a record date.' I never got that call for his record date."

Art Farmer, trumpet

Art is a truly gifted musician who has worked with many prominent artists representing a variety of schools and styles of Jazz. In 1959 he formed a sextet with Benny Golson called the Jazztet which has also featured Curtis Fuller and Cedar Walton. Over the next few years Farmer gradually turned from the trumpet to the flugelhorn and today plays his new instrument, the flumpet.

Art was with Lionel Hampton's band when he first met Hank. "I met him one night when I came to New York with Lionel. I heard that Miles was playing at a place called the Downbeat. I went there, and Hank and Sonny Rollins were there."

In 1956 Art featured Hank on his LP Farmer's Market. They recorded together again in 1957 on two of Hank's albums, on another under Horace Silver's leadership, The Stylings of Silver, and on Sonny Clark's Dial S For Sonny.

"I enjoyed working with Hank. Hank was really a very nice guy, but I don't think he realized how good a player he was. Hank was a hell of a creative player and a damn good composer."

Arthur Taylor, Master of Ceremonies

Art started as a professional drummer nearly 40 years ago, beginning his career under the tutelage of Coleman Hawkins and Bud Powell. He has performed with bands that included Charlie Parker, Jackie McLean, Sonny Rollins, Kenny Dorham, Paul Chambers and Hank Mobley. He has recorded more than 200 albums including 14 with Hank Mobley, made under the leadership of Horace Silver, HanK, Hank and Lee Morgan, Doug Watkins, Kenny Burrell, Curtis Fuller and Dizzy Reece.

Also known as a true "keeper of the flame," Mr. Taylor has published his first volume of musician-to-musician Interviews entitled "Notes And Tones."

To be continued in Part 2 with The Booklet from the 10.29.1990 tribute -
"My Groove, Your Move" - The Music of Hank Mobley.

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