Friday, October 01, 2004

Miles Davis' Autobiography mentions of Hank Mobley and not in a flattering light...

Obviously one of the issues that has to be analyzed is Mobley's tenure in Miles Davis' band in 1961. The story goes that Miles did not care for Mobley's playing and felt Hank played behind the beat... It is interesting to wonder if Mobley's failed tenure in Miles' band negatively impacted his career.

Miles' mentions Mobley very briefly in his autobiography and this is the very little he had to say:

"Sonny Stitt left the band sometime around the beginning of 1961. I replaced him with Hank Mobley, and we went into the studio to record Someday My Prince Will Come in March 1961. I brought Coltrane to play on three or four of those tunes and Philly Joe to play on one. But the rest of the band was the same: Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb and Hank Mobley on two or three tunes. Teo Macero, my producer, had started to splice tape together on Porgy and Bess and then on Sketches of Spain, and he did it on this album, too. We post-recorded solos on those albums, with Trane and me doing some extra horn work. It was an interesting process that was done frequently after that."

"That spring of 1961- April I think it was- I decided to drive out to California, for a gig in San Francisco at the Blackhawk. I had been playing at the Village Vanguard when I was in New York, but the music was starting to bore me because I didn't like what Hank Mobley was playing in the band. Gil and I were working a little bit on an album we wanted to do for Columbia. But other than that, everything was slow.

Playing with Hank just wasn't fun for me; he didn't stimulate my imagination. This was about the time I started playing real short solos and then leaving the bandstand."

"But as good as my home life was, the music wasn't going too good for me during this period. Hank Mobley left the band in 1961 and I replaced him for a hot minute with a guy named Rocky Body, but he didn't work out either."

all this material is copyrighted by simon and shuster


Anonymous said...

I think Miles "dissatisfaction" with Hank is much ado about nothing. Miles never said he didn't respect and admire Mobley, obviously he wouldn't have hired him if he had felt any other way. It's just that Hank wasn't the fit that Miles was looking for at the time. Like Sam Rivers or Rocky Boyd or Jimmy Heath or Sonny Stitt. Why dump on Hank, he's in pretty good company here.

Anonymous said...

Miles also played some bullshit in his time

Anonymous said...

I think Miles was angry that Hank was still addicted to heroin, i believe it was more a 'personal' thing, rather than a musical one. Also, truthfully, Hank was a better composer than Miles, and probably a better "all around musician" (composing, arranging, soloing, etc.)
Also, Miles always preferred sax players who had a different style than he did (usually more loud & noisy), like Coltrane, Shorter, etc. Mobley like Miles had a supreme rhythmic sense that let them get to the heart of the rhythm, and ride the changes concisely--Miles knew that!

IMO, Mobley was the Charlie Parker of the hard bop era. I greatly prefer his mid-50s early mono recordings, but feel these have gotten short shrift just because they don't sound as good recording-wise as the early sixties stereo recordings, like Roll Call and Soul Station, which i think are slightly over-rated and are always cited when listing his 'best' albums. But later sessions, like A Slice Of The Top and Thinking Of Home are great too! I think Hank's best year of recording was 1957, with the mono records from that year (before spring '57) being his best ever recordings.