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Henry (Hank) Mobley (July 7, 1930May 30, 1986) was an Americanmarker hard bop and soul jazz tenor saxophonist and composer. Mobley was described by Leonard Feather as the "middleweight champion of the tenor saxophone", a metaphor used to describe his tone that was neither as aggressive as John Coltrane nor as mellow as Stan Getz. This description suggested to some that Mobley was mediocre. In addition, as his style was laid-back, subtle and melodic, especially in contrast with players like Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane, it took connoisseurs until after his demise to fully appreciate his talent.


Mobley was born in Eastman, Georgiamarker, but was raised in Elizabeth, New Jerseymarker, near Newark. Early in his career, he worked with Dizzy Gillespie and Max Roach. He took part in one of the landmark hard bop sessions, alongside Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Doug Watkins and trumpeter Kenny Dorham. The results of these sessions were released as Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers. They contrasted with the classical pretensions of cool jazz, with Mobley's rich lyricism being bluesier, alongside the funky approach of Horace Silver. When The Jazz Messengers split in 1956, Mobley continued on with pianist Horace Silver for a short time, although he did work again with Blakey some years later, when the drummer appeared on Mobley's albums in the early 60s.

During the 1960s, he worked chiefly as a leader, recording over 20 albums for Blue Note Records, including Soul Station (1960) and Roll Call (1960), between 1955 and 1970. He performed with many of the most important hard bop players, such as Grant Green, Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Clark, Wynton Kelly and Philly Joe Jones, and formed a particularly productive partnership with trumpeter Lee Morgan. Mobley is widely recognized as one of the great composers of originals in the hard-bop era, with interesting chord changes and room for soloists to spread out.

His 1961 album, Another Workout, while considered an instant classic, was inexplicably not released until 1985.

Mobley also spent a brief time in 1961 with Miles Davis, during the trumpeter's search for a replacement for John Coltrane. He is heard on the album Someday My Prince Will Come (alongside Coltrane, who returned for the recording of some tracks), and some live recordings (In Person: Live at the Blackhawk and At Carnegie Hall). Though considered by some as not having the improvisational fire of Coltrane, Mobley was still a major voice on tenor saxophone, known for his melodic playing.

Mobley was forced to retire in the mid-1970s due to lung problems. He worked briefly with Duke Jordan before his death from pneumonia in 1986.


As leader

Title Year Label
Hank Mobley Quartet 1955 Blue Note
The Jazz Message of Hank Mobley 1956 Savoy
Mobley's Message 1956 Prestige
Mobley's 2nd Message 1956 Prestige
Jazz Message #2 1957 Savoy
Hank Mobley Sextet 1957 Blue Note
Hank Mobley and his All Stars 1957 Blue Note
Hank Mobley Quintet 1957 Blue Note
Hank 1957 Blue Note
Hank Mobley 1957 Blue Note
Curtain Call 1957 Blue Note
Poppin' 1957 Blue Note
Peckin' Time 1958 Blue Note
Soul Station 1960 Blue Note
Roll Call 1960 Blue Note
Workout 1961 Blue Note
Another Workout 1961 Blue Note
No Room for Squares 1963 Blue Note
Straight No Filter 1963 Blue Note
The Turnaround! 1965 Blue Note
Dippin' 1965 Blue Note
A Caddy for Daddy 1965 Blue Note
A Slice of the Top 1966 Blue Note
Hi Voltage 1967 Blue Note
Third Season 1967 Blue Note
Far Away Lands 1967 Blue Note
Reach Out 1968 Blue Note
The Flip 1969 Blue Note
Thinking of Home 1970 Blue Note
Breakthrough! 1972 Muse

As sideman

with Max Roach with Dizzy Gillespie
  • Afro (1954) Verve
  • Jazz Recital (1954) Verve
with Horace Silver with Kenny Dorham with Jay Jay Johnson with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers with Lee Morgan with John Coltrane, Zoot Sims & Al Cohn with Kenny Burrell
  • K.B.'s Blues (1957) Blue Note
with Jimmy Smith
  • A Date with Jimmy Smith (1957) Blue Note
with Johnny Griffin with Donald Byrd with Curtis Fuller
  • The Opener (1957) Blue Note
  • Sliding Easy (1959) United Artists
with Sonny Clark with Dizzy Reece
  • Star Bright (1959) Blue Note
with Art Farmer
  • Farmers Market (1957) Prestige
with Freddy Hubbard with Kenny Drew
  • Undercurrent (1960) Blue Note
with Elvin Jones
  • Together (1961) Atlantic
  • Midnight Walk (1966) Atlantic
with Miles Davis with Grant Green
  • I Want to Hold Your Hand (1965) Blue Note
with Archie Shepp
  • Yasmina, a Black Woman (1969) BYG
  • Poem for Malcolm (1969) BYG


  • Derek Ansell, Workout: The Music of Hank Mobley. London: Northway Publications, 2008. ISBN 978 09550908 8 2

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