Hank Mobley • No Room For Squares • 1963 • Blue Note BLP 4149 / BST 84149
Recorded March 7 & October 2, 1963 at Rudy Van Gelder Studios, NJ
Hank Mobley - Tenor Sax
Lee Morgan - Trumpet (a)
Donald Byrd - Trumpet (b)
Andrew Hill - Piano (a)
Herbie Hancock - Piano (b)
John Ore - Bass (a)
Butch Warren - Bass (b)
Philly Joe Jones - Drums
A1. Three Way Split (a)
A2. Carolyn (a)
A3. Up A Step (b)
B1. No Room For Squares (a)
B2. Me 'N You (a)
B3. Old World, New Imports (b)
One of my favorite early 1960's record from both Blue Note and my favorite tenor player, No Room For Squares features two different quintets from two 1963 recording sessions. The first, from March 1963, features Donald Byrd, Herbie Hancock and Butch Warren, while the second from October 1963 has Lee Morgan, Andrew Hill and John Ore. Philly Joe Jones brilliantly anchors the drums for both sessions.
I put Mobley's tenure at Blue Note into three distinct periods: his 1950 sides that helped launch hard bop (and which are all collected in the amazing Mosaic box set The Complete Blue Note Hank Mobley Fifties Sessions), his early 1960's dates which include the classics Soul Station, Workout and Roll Call and, finally, his amazing mid-to-late 1960's records such as Dippin', The Turnaround, A Caddy For Daddy and A Slice Of The Top where he would explore the emerging soul-jazz sound.
Present in all these periods is Mobley's deep bluesy sound, and No Room For Squares finds him in top form, sounding as confident as ever. This is no doubt due to the high caliber of both his compositions and the players surrounding him. Hard bop became the dominant sound of Blue Note in no small part due to Mobley, who knew precisely how to marry the traditions of jazz with a new-found sense of the blues. It is hard to imagine now, but for nearly two decades after his final Blue Note recording in 1970, No Room For Squares was considered by many to be his last truly artistic statement. Luckily, the 1990's saw a new appreciation for the man who in many ways shaped the sound of Blue Note during it's most popular period (and that would remain it's most popular style to this day). Sadly, he fits the profile of the true genius who was not appreciated enough during his lifetime. Luckily, we have his prolific and fantastic body of work to forever remind us of the depth of his great talents.
My pressing is from the early 1970's, as shown by the "A Division Of United Artists Records" on the label. The sound is impressive, with a good separation of the highs and lows and all the instrumentation shining through brightly without some of that sludgy sound in later re-issues. A similar pressing in near mint condition should be had for somewhere between $25-$40.
An original 1963 pressing would feature "New York, USA" on the label, with the Van Gelder" stamp and Plastylite "ear" in the run off. A near mint original mono copy is currently going for between $200-$300 on eBay.