Booker Ervin vs. Hank Mobley

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Six String
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Booker Ervin vs. Hank Mobley

Postby Six String » 24 Oct 2008, 14:35

Two of my favorite tenor sax players with different approaches to hard bop. Both of them slowly disappeared from the scene, practically forgotten by all but their biggest fans. Hank is always described as having a "round" tone to his sound. IMO, Mobley was one of the most important writers AND players in the hardbop category of jazz. Booker had a tougher sound, one that showed a lot of emotion. His ability to scream and cry no matter how fast or intricate the changes always impressed me.

I couldn't live without either of them in my music collection. Along with Sonny Rollins, Wayne Shorter and Joe Henderson, these two tenor titan's discography take up a lot of space on my shelves. That's because with few exceptions, these two remained at the top of their game until they shuffled off this mortal coil.

Unlike Mobley, I have not been able to buy many of Ervin's best albums on vinyl. There must still be a lot of "Book" fans out there holding on to their precious Prestige rekkids, or selling them at outrageous prices.

Not only did these two make a lot of good albums as leaders, but they also did a lot of excellent recording as sidemen. Booker is most famously known for his work with Mingus but he also did several great albums with one of my favorite pianists, Randy Weston. Weston's African Cookbook on Atlantic and his Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival album from 1966 are two fine examples. Both albums feature Ervin on a song written for Weston's mother, Portrait of Vivian. According to the liner notes, Ervin was in tears by the end of his solo on that song. Do you think he was feeling it? Horace Parlan is another musician who tapped into Ervin's gift as a player of real emotion.

Hank Mobley seemed to be everywhere on the Bluenote label. Art Blakey, Lee Morgan, Sonny Clark, Paul Chambers, and many more used his playing and writing skills on their albums as leaders in the 50s and 60s.
If you have more than 5 Bluenote albums in your collection, I'm willing to bet at least one of them has Mobley on it.

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Balboa
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Re: Booker Ervin vs. Hank Mobley

Postby Balboa » 24 Oct 2008, 14:48

It's funny, I have a whole bunch of Mobley records (your note on Now Playing just made me go and grab 'Soul Station' and 'Another Workout' from the shelves) - and at the same time I have just ordered my first Ervin albums with him as a leader ('Freedom Book' and 'Space Book').

So I only know what I have heard of Ervin on those Mingus sides you mentioned. I'll need to come back to this (and I will keep an eye out for those discs you mention).

You know Mobley is like a secret squirrel, he appears on a ton of Blue Note records. Not to derail the thread, but another tenor man who never seems to get mentioned is Dexter Gordon - I listened to a couple of his sides for BN the other week and really enjoyed them. Maybe people see him as being more of a bebop man or part of the older generation of players, I don't really know.
Of course, I was mostly stoned at the time.

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Kenji
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Re: Booker Ervin vs. Hank Mobley

Postby Kenji » 24 Oct 2008, 14:52

I don't know Booker well but same as Balboa I'm going to play some Hank now because of the thread... ;)

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Spec
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Re: Booker Ervin vs. Hank Mobley

Postby Spec » 24 Oct 2008, 17:03

I have 6 or 7 Mobley releases as leader and, as others have commented, he seems to appear on a whole host of other albums as a sideman. Booker Ervin I only have Freedom Book but will be interested to hear more. Will play some Mobley on the way home tonight.

Balboa mentions Gordon. I have 10 or more DG albums and, as I remarked the other day on NP, much as I like them I have never really loved them. Don't know why.

Six String
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Re: Booker Ervin vs. Hank Mobley

Postby Six String » 24 Oct 2008, 17:05

Specbebop wrote:I have 6 or 7 Mobley releases as leader and, as others have commented, he seems to appear on a whole host of other albums as a sideman. Booker Ervin I only have Freedom Book but will be interested to hear more. Will play some Mobley on the way home tonight.

Balboa mentions Gordon. I have 10 or more DG albums and, as I remarked the other day on NP, much as I like them I have never really loved them. Don't know why.


I know what you mean about Dexter. I have several albums by him and I like them a lot but reach for Hank or Booker more often.

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Balboa
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Re: Booker Ervin vs. Hank Mobley

Postby Balboa » 17 Jan 2009, 16:56

Well I have heard a load more Booker Ervin since this was posted - in fact I am just listening to Randy Weston's 'African Cookbook' that Six String mentions above, Ervin's playin is immense.

They are really quite different aren't they - Mobley seems way more controlled than Ervin. Safer, I guess, although that is no bad thing. Ervin seems to live life a little closer to the edge, maybe a little more exciting - takes more risks. I can't pick one over the other though. I don't think I would be without either of them - Ervin's 'Book' albums, and Mobley's Blue Note albums as leader are both excellent collections.
Of course, I was mostly stoned at the time.

Six String
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Re: Booker Ervin vs. Hank Mobley

Postby Six String » 17 Jan 2009, 17:06

For me the only thing that seperates playing Mobley or Ervin is my mood or the occasion. I wouldn't want to be without either of them in my collection either. I don't know if it's true but Mobley's music sounds more arranged or planned out whereas Ervin's music seems to depend more on the spontaneous "arranging" of his musical partners. It does lend a more edgier sound to his music and it's probably why his albums always sound so fresh to me even though I've heard them so many times.