Hank Mobley – Workout – Blue Note ST-84080 (1962) /Analogue Productions CBNJ 84080 SA – SACD Stereo, 46:33 [Distr. Harmonia mundi] ***½:
(Hank Mobley, tenor sax; Grant Green, guitar; Wynton Kelly, piano; Paul Chambers, bass; Philly Joe Jones, drums)
Continuing their recent efforts to re-release prime 1960s Blue Note Records material, Analogue Productions has cherry-picked another classic for their primo SACD treatment, Hank Mobley’s Workout.
This classic 1962 Blue Note release featured four Mobley compositions along with two standards, “The Best Things in Life are Free” and “Three Coins in the Fountain.” Hank has Grant Green along with a dream rhythm section. Hank had a way with short to-the-point titles that perfectly describe the song’s vibe and here “Uh Huh” “Smokin’” and “Greasin’ Easy” do the trick…
Philly Joe sets the pace for the opening “Workout” with a rat-a-tat marching band opening before Mobley pumps his weight with ease. Hank stays in the mid-register, content to lock into an effortless groove with just a few honks. Effortless also describes Grant Green’s skill and he shows it right off the bat. “Uh Huh” has Hank and Grant playing off each other at the intro before Mobley’s blues skills are let loose.
“Smokin’” sure does, though I would have liked a trumpet or trombone to up the ante. Wynton Kelly, instead provides the background inspiration. “The Best Things” follows and Hank blows easy on this ballad, content to let Philly Joe and PC set the groove before Grant Green has his say.
“Greasin’ Easy” is my favorite track on the album and I like the way that Wynton Kelly’s economical playing provides Hank the stage to dig in and do what the song’s title says. Having Grant Green cooking mid-track adds nicely to the mood. “Three Coins” from the Another Workout session is added as a bonus track and Hank’s emoting brings to mind a subdued Sonny Rollins.
Analogue Productions mastering gurus, Kevin Gray and Steve Hoffman, have used their skills once again to keep the rhythm section balanced well with Mobley’s low key tenor sax. Analogue Productions SACDs are well worth the effort to search out.
TrackList: Workout, Uh Huh, Smokin’, The Best Things in Life are Free, Greasin’ Easy, Three Coins in the Fountain
— Jeff Krow