Recorded back in 1960, Hank Mobley’s Soul Station is undoubtedly one of my favorite Blue Note releases of all time and certainly my favorite of Mobley’s.
Soul Station includes a stellar lineup, featuring Wynton Kelly on piano, Paul Chambers on bass and the formidable Art Blakey on drums. This was truly a band that complemented Mobley, who too often found himself a member of quintets, enabling him to step out front and lead. And on Soul Station, lead he did.
Book-ended by two standards, the album contains four brilliant compositions by Mobley himself.
“Remember” by Irving Berlin is the quintessential finger-popping opener. It sets the tone for the rest of the album and keeps an even pace throughout. It begins with a fluid solo from Mobley, then an imaginative one by Kelly, culminated with a chorus by Mr. PC himself.
The hard bop, up-tempo second offering of “This I Dig Of You” segues into Kelly’s solo, but the meat and potato’s of this track is Mobley’s solo, which is in-depth and thought provoking, allowing Mobley to stretch, leading to Blakey’s thundering closure of the piece.
The album’s third track “Dig Dis” is where Mobley really takes flight. It’s a bluesy number but represents the epitome of his style. Beginning with a solo by Kelly before the introduction of the main theme, ushered in by Blakey’s snare roll. Mobley’s solo, which includes a number of runs, is one which defines what he was known for; playing behind the beat. His ability to stretch the time within the measures is what many enjoyed so much about his playing as well as being what held others, such as Miles, back from enjoying it and being able to work with it as well.
“Split Feelin’s”, again an up-tempo number is playful and supplemented by some very creative playing by Blakey. Unfortunately, just as the track seems to kick into high gear, it’s faded out.
The album’s title track is a laid back funky blues number, which quite honestly isn’t done any justice by writing about it. It simply just needs to be enjoyed, absorbed.
Soul Station closes very much similar to the way it began. With another finger-popping, toe-tapping standard, “If I Should Lose You” by Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin.
After a string of follow-up successes to Soul Station including Roll Call and Workout,Mobley briefly joined Miles Davis’ quintet in 1961, recording alongside Trane on Someday My Prince Will Come and on Davis’ live albums In Person: Live At The Blackhawk and At Carnegie Hall.
Mobley was forced to retire in the mid-70s due to health issues and lung problems and succumbed to pneumonia in 1986.