Hank Mobley: Roll Call (1960) Blue Note


Selection 1: My Groove, Your Move


Selection 2: The Breakdown


Freddie Hubbard (trumpet) Hank Mobley (tenor saxophone) Wynton Kelly (piano) Paul Chambers (bass) Art Blakey (drums) recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, November 13, 1960


I’m going to say it. There are times when I find extended listening to Rollins or Coltrane simply too exhausting, but I know I can put Mobley on the platter and sink into the sofa, relaxed, and float away carried by Mobley’s confident and polished tone, soulful phrasing, and just the right balance of energy and exploration, always making room for the other artists sharing the stage.

The year 1960-1 produced  a rich payload of fast-maturing artists, with Blue Note titles of merit coming thick and fast. Hubbard is a great addition to the more austere Soul Station line up here, to me adding more variety and texture than the much-vaunted title. A week previously Hubbard led his own album Goin’ Up (BN 4056) with Mobley and two weeks later recorded on Kenny Drew’s Undercurrent (BN 4059) also with Mobley. The empathy is well established between Hubbard and Mobley,  burnished trumpet and Mobley’s liquid tenor.

Having absorbed DGMono’s dissection of van Gelder stereo, I had initial misgivings about pursuing an “early”  stereo title that could turn out quite expensive, but Van Gelder is showing more subtlety in his stereo mix here than some earlier efforts. Basically, the quintet format gives him more to play with. Mobley’s presence on one speaker is balanced with Hubbard on the other, the high- energy rhythm section combination of Blakey (no shrinking violet)  and Wynton Kelly (the rhythm-king)  filling in all available space, all joyously cemented together by Paul Chambers. It’s super-group quality performance, and engineering to match, the turntable smiles with this one.

But still people hanker after the more rare Mobley titles, unfairly in my view to the detriment of Roll Call, which is a great cohesive bop-melting pot.

Vinyl: Blue Note BST 84058 – 47 West 63rd labels with INC/R, ears, stereo van Gelder master,  DG side 2 only. Has a few intermittent clicks, but music stays well on top.

Blue Note Minutiae: (Spotify and I-Tunes enthusiasts may avert their eyes at this point)

The incorporation of Blue Note with trademark protection in 1960 meant the INC and R on label and cover is expected on original pressings of this catalogue number, but the presence of deep groove on only side 2 is vexatious..

BN 4058 mono was the last title where the original pressing is DG both sides, but stereo was often issued at a later date. From BN 4059 titles began appearing with only one or other side as DG, with an occasional appearance right up to the year 1965. It was only at BN 4066 that originals with no-DG both sides appear, so this is at the crossroads of Plastylite pressing plant mixing old and new pressing dies and it is difficult to be certain what identifies the characteristics of a first stereo pressing. Where is a Stereo First Pressing Fundamentalist when you need one?

The laminated duotone cover (err..”packaging”?) finds a tightly-cropped Francis Wolff shot of Mobley poring intently over something, leaving unanswered the question, of what. A “roll call” is an attendance list read out loud to establish who is present.- the connection I guess is the A-list of players found on the record. Fair enough, Reid, but it’s not quite BN 1568. And pink?



Collectors Corner

This Mobley Blue Note came my way from a fairly strongly contested Ebay auction, not cheaply but within my house limit, and one which I bet would arrive at a more acceptable price than any of Mobley’ rarer titles. BN 1560 and 1568 are not going to be coming my way any time soon.

To be honest I have never considered rare Blue Notes records actually worth what they cost, though others clearly feel differently.I would rather have several less rare records than one most rare, enjoy new musical  discoveries among lesser titles, but some collectors would take the opposite view, and I can respect that.

Having been fortunate to hold Daryl Sheinman’s original Mobley BN 1560 for several minutes, there is definitely a transfer of kinetic energy through the temporal vortex, a Back To The Future experience, sparking through your fingers holding an authentic historical artefact from the 1950’s

Mobley Mobley Mobley. There may have been better players, but none I personally like as much. That chocolate tenor sound beats vanilla every time…



20 thoughts on “Hank Mobley: Roll Call (1960) Blue Note

  1. Just re-read this post as I am spinning my copy now. It was one of my most wanted Blue Notes for years and in the spring of this year I found a copy in a retired friend’s collection who was finally deciding to part with some stuff. I almost trembled when I dug it out; an absolute pristine mint “review” stamped mono 47w63rd copy with a DG on side one only. I spat out a number – $500 CAD. My friend said it’s yours for $450 CAD. I bought it immediately…the vinyl and cover look like brand new! Apparently this exists with DG on both sides but I’m completely happy with the copy I got considering the superb condition!!


  2. Scored this one not long ago. Though not an original (mine is a Division of United Artists with black font), it still sounds great. I did notice what almost looks like a ‘9M’ in the deadwax but maybe I’m just seeing things. Could that even be possible? It doesn’t change anything with respect to the music but just thought it was interesting…


  3. Your opening comment resonates. Once every few weeks, Albert Ayler’s Truth Is Marching In is something I have to hear. Something like A Baptist Beat will never disappoint. At the moment I’m seeking a Northern Soul track- on MP3 as an initial reference copy of Happy by Velvet Hammer- Which takes me well beyond the pale here

    Roll Call is one of those Blue Notes that we probably all love- let’s cherish it!


  4. If memory serves – and it doesn’t always anymore – this was the record (a term I use in the old-school generic sense, like “album”) which set me to seeking out records for Blakey’s drumming (that is, dates where Blakey was not the leader).


  5. Roll Call = Wish list record. Stereo or mono doesn’t matter, I love ’em either way.

    Oh and by the way: Fred Cohen’s book provides a list with all the 1st pressing details of the stereo BN releases 😉


  6. To me there are certain records for which I would pay a premium price for the pleasure of owning an original copy (if I had the funds which of course I don’t). This is definitely one of them. Up there with Soul Station.


  7. I absolutely agree with you.In my opinion this record is far better than the sought after 1568,wih a weak Curtis Porter performance.The cover design of 1568 may be more attractive,but for that reason you can always buy the Japanese King pressing.


  8. Greetings!

    Is it still your belief that the black and blue BN Liberty reissues stamped with “Van Gelder” in the deadwax are inferior to the slightly later United Artists BN reissues? They are increasing in value on ebay for sure…


    • My take on this “battle of the re-issues” shifts around a bit, as improvements in equipment changes the presentation, often for the better. It is very title-related – some are better transfers than others, and no-one has heard all of them.

      My hierarchy of audio quality “in general” is currently:
      1. Original
      2. Liberty/NY and other early Division of Liberty RVG/van Gelder
      3. West coast black/light blue Liberty-UA Inc RVG/van Gelder
      4. all-blue black note Division of United Artists Inc (1973-5) RVG/van Gelder
      5.later all-blue black note UAMRG 1975+

      The maverick in all this is the Cuscuna/Lourrie Blue Note Reissue Series two-fers from the vaults, some of which are nothing short of stellar, but others pretty horrid.

      Anything without van Gelder markings, treat with caution.

      I take the Japanese out of the equation, because they have a quite different less forward presentation, but usually near-silent vinyl, so there are different issues to grapple with.

      So far the only consistently poor listening quality I find are the late ’70s LT series, all of which I have are disappointing.

      Let battle commence.


  9. Very nice, clean cover…vinyl sounds a bit scruffy…was it graded VG? VG+?

    I’m the kind of collector that would actually rather be patient and get one “big game item” opposed to several more common titles, the main reason being that my digital library is chock full at the moment and I enjoy both listening experiences. And I do still tend to gun for mono for vintage jazz vinyl, and a big reason for this is simply because I usually have a sufficient digital copy of the stereo release. But sure, if there’s an album out there that I can’t get digitally and the original mono vinyl is really expensive, I’m happy to compromise with a vintage stereo pressing…or really any pressing at that.

    4000 series Blue Note to me is more or less “level 3” Blue Note in terms of price and demand, but it’s still pretty high up there. Lexington Ave being level 1, the rest of the 1500 series being level 2, and then 4100 series being level 4 (I just made all this up haha). That being said, I find that 4000-series BN demands significantly higher prices than most 4100-series stuff (with exceptions).

    And finally, this is a prime example as to why catalog numbers can be deceiving. Even though Roll Call has a lower catalog number than Kenny Drew’s Undercurrent (the infamous first mono pressing with a DG/no DG mix), Roll Call was actually released a month after Undercurrent (May and June ’61, respectively). So we can assume that a DG/no DG mix for this title, be it stereo or mono, is an original (well in my opinion anyway).


    • When Hubbard’s playing the stereo spread sounds nice and even…not so much during Mobley’s solos, as is the case with all the BN stereo stuff post May ’59…trumpet left, sax right. But I love hearing Blakey cook over to the right on “Breakdown”, especially during the piano solo, and I love hearing the reverb of the Englewood Cliffs studio (and a little of EMT plate ‘verb thrown in for good measure I’m sure)!


    • Mono First Pressing Fundamentalist here, now off-duty and on holiday!
      big one for me too, for the identical reason as Rich (better, DG Mono).
      I’ve got some thousands cd’s, just for documentation, too many to have listened to them all, but vinyl comes first, and it must be first.
      Look out friends! LJC is approaching one million pages view, the challenge for a first 1568 is right behind the corner…


  10. Mine is a blue label/black b pressing (beggars can’t be choosers). Has RVG STEREO in the matrix, and sounds pretty good to me, although an original is still on my list. A superb record all around.


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