Hank Mobley “Mobley’s Message” (1956)

Track Selection: Au Privave (Charlie Parker) guest Jackie McLean


Donald Byrd (tp) Jackie McLean (as) on “Au Privave”,  Hank Mobley (ts) Barry Harris (p) Doug Watkins (b) Art Taylor (d) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, July 20, 1956


Mobley was damned with faint praise by critics as the “middleweight of the tenor” against Rollins and Coltrane, yet it is Mobley who heads the eBay listing of most desired and expensive records, no doubt due to the scarcity of sales that accompanied being a  “middleweight”. Teamed here with Jackie McLean on the Parker composition, Au Privave, a made-up word probably meant to sound French, which you see occasionally, wrongly corrected to Au Private.

The Parker original version, for comparison, is helpfully posted up on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvdQYSWOobc Someone posted the observation that ” Bird liked minor triads because he liked to play a major seventh over them. He didn’t use thirteenth chords because he liked to play the thirteenth himself”. So there you have it, I knew there was something I was missing.The Parker recording is of course a gem, and a reminder what these young upstarts Mobley and McLean were up against, playing in the shadow of Bird.

Vinyl: Japanese pressing by Victor (1977)  of Prestige 7061

Typically Japanese clean and clear pressing, though the audio is a little flat and tonally compressed, but difficult to compare in the absence of a Prestige original. Sometimes that is how the original sounds, and the engineer did the best he could from the material available. Adore the graphic cover design, even if it does conflate electricity pylons somehow with  carrying messages, stretching the metaphor a little, but who cares, it looks great.

Collectors Corner

Not often I have bid for a Japanesere issue on eBay, but after an unsuccessful auction battle for an original from the States, a near-mint japanese pressing was duly purchased from a German collector. Perhaps it was him who won the original. I still keep my eye out for an original, but the word “Mobley” is on too many collectors’s saved searches for it ever to be a bargain, or even a sensible price. So it’s sushi on the menu for a while at least.

3 thoughts on “Hank Mobley “Mobley’s Message” (1956)

  1. I just get a french pressing of this album. Barclay Disques 84.056 Standard. The sound is reel deep and present. Very Nice. I believe it’s a really good alternative regarding the high value of the Original Prestige. Not the same cover but the french one is not so bad.
    Regarding the 1000$ records, didn’t like the OJC reissues, I take a look to japanese reissues.
    So I have 2 Japanese reissue of Prestige made by Victor Musical Industries. The sound is as you define it : flat and tonally compressed. May be less good than an……Evil Silver Disk. I feel the same with the Riverside reissues I have, made by…Victor Musical Industries. I believe there are different series of Japanese reissues of the Prestige and Riverside ( like King and Toshiba for Blue Note – often audiophiles prefers the King reissues than the Toshibas) and some will be good, but I don’t find any information of that. I really like your impressions.

  2. One of the reasons I love this site so much:
    “Adore the graphic cover design, even if it does conflate electricity pylons somehow carrying messages, stretching the metaphor a little”.
    Absolutely hilarious! Keep up the great work.

  3. As an artist and designer I look at that cover, with its black pylon silhouettes, horrible green colour and negative leading on the type and think how the hell does that work? But it does, beautifully. Music isn’t half bad either!

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