Hank Mobley Biography

Henry Mobley, 7 July 1930, Eastman, Georgia, USA, d. 30 May 1986, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Tenor saxophonist Mobley began his professional career with an R&B band in 1950. The following year, he was attracting the attention of such important beboppers as Max Roach and Dizzy Gillespie, and by 1954 his stature was such that he was invited to become a founder member of Horace Silver’s Jazz Messengers. When Silver re-formed a band under his own name, bequeathing the Messengers to Art Blakey, Mobley went along, too. In the late 50s he was briefly with Blakey, then worked with Dizzy Reece and, in 1961, spent a short but memorable time with Miles Davis. Throughout the 60s, Mobley worked with many distinguished musicians, among them Lee Morgan, Barry Harris and Billy Higgins, often leading the bands, and recording several outstanding sessions for Blue Note Records.

In the 70s, Mobley was dogged by poor health, but he worked sporadically, including a stint as co-leader of a group with Cedar Walton. Mobley played even less frequently in the 80s, but shortly before his death in 1986, he worked with Duke Jordan. The seemingly casual ease with which Mobley performed, comfortably encompassing complex rhythmical innovations, and the long period spent on the sidelines have tended to obscure the fact that his was a remarkable talent. Also militating against widespread appeal was his sometimes detached, dry and intimate sound, which contrasted sharply with the more aggressively robust style adopted by many of his contemporaries.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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