‘Hank Mobley in Holland’ is a nice new chapter in Dutch jazz history.

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The release of a CD from the series Treasures of Dutch is not complete without an extensive historical research by the Dutch Jazz Archive. That is also the case with ‘Hank Mobley in Holland’.  The American tenor saxophonist came to Europe in 1968 and stayed for two years.

He had his first gigs in The Netherlands and not in England, as previously reported by UK writers! In an earlier French Jazz Magazine interview, the saxophonist states that he flew from the US to The Netherlands. He then went to Denmark, onto London and he ended up in Paris.

The saxophonist (born in 1930) played at the beginning of his career with Dizzy Gillespie and Horace Silver. ‘Soul Station’ (with Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, and Art Blakey – 1960) is considered his best album. This was followed in 1961 by a brief collaboration with Miles Davis, but in 1962, he left the famous trumpeter’s band. Hank Mobley came as a replacement for John Coltrane, but like other tenor saxophonists experienced, that was a mission impossible.

It‘s now generally accepted that the reason for his departure from America in 1968 was his drug addiction. Hank Mobley had been charged with possession of illegal substance several times. At it is thought that if caught again he would automatically receive a prison sentence.

In the spring of 1968, Hank Mobley arrived in The Netherlands. He was then 37 years. On the day of his arrival, (20 March) recordings were made for the television program of pianist Pim Jacobs. Three numbers from that broadcast are on the cd: ‘Summertime’, ‘Sonny’s Tune’ and ‘Airegin’. Hank Mobley was accompanied by pianist Pim Jacobs, Ruud Jacobs (bass), Wim Overgaauw (guitar) and Han Bennink (drums).

On 28 March, two songs were recorded in a radio studio with a big band. The Hobby Orchestra consisted of the crème de la crème of the Dutch jazz scene of that time. On the CD are ‘I didn’t know what time it was’ and ‘Twenty-four and more’. According to the research by the Dutch Jazz Archive, these are the only recordings of Hank Mobley with a big band. This fact alone makes the cd unique.

A day later, the American played in the Rotterdam jazz club B14 with the trio of pianist Rob Agerbeek, Hans van Rossem (bass) and Cees See (drums). That too is a radio recording. There are five songs from that concert on the cd: ‘Blues at Five’, ‘Like someone in love’, ‘Vierd Blues’, ‘Three Way Split’ and ‘Autumn Leaves’.

The three sessions make one thing clear: Hank Mobley played very well when he resided in Netherlands. His beautiful, round sound is a joyful listen. His solos do convince. ‘Hank Mobley in Holland ‘ is a great new chapter in the series Treasures of Dutch Jazz. Moreover, it makes the jazz history a bit more complete.

Peter Beije

‘Hank Mobley in Holland’ (www.jazzarchief.nl)

Last modified: July 15, 2018