Tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley brought real consistency to his many Blue Note dates, as well as an individualistic style that blended an almost languid sound with rhythmically acute phrasing. Two sessions held two years apart contribute to this CD, and they demonstrate Mobley's ease in two quite different quintets. Four of the tracks come from a 1965 session that joins Mobley's mellow tenor with the crackling trumpet of Freddie Hubbard
. "The Turnaround," a hard-bop boogaloo number in the style of Lee Morgan
's "Sidewinder, has drummer Billy Higgins
and pianist Barry Harris
reprising their "Sidewinder" roles. But it's Mobley's unusually abbreviated, carefully matched phrases that make the strongest impression.
"My Sin" is a fine vehicle for Mobley's ballad art, a fluidly romantic approach that's alert to the tune's every nuance, while "Straight Ahead" and the brisk "Pat 'n' Chat" contain enough turns to inspire fluidly twisting lines from Hubbard and Mobley. A 1963 session with trumpeter Donald Byrd, pianist Herbie Hancock, and drummer Philly Joe Jones contributes two tracks. Mobley keeps finding new directions in a solo full of surprises on his modal "East of the Village," then wraps Sacha Distel's "The Good Life"--unusual fare on a hard-bop date--in the warm breathiness of his horn's lower register. --Stuart Broomer