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Straight No Filter (1963)

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Herbie Hancock

Straight No Filter finds tenor Hank Mobley in several settings from the mid-'60s, each of them excellent. The overall roster is quite impressive, starting with the first set which features trumpeter Lee Morgan, pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Bob Cranshaw, and drummer Billy Higgins. The upbeat title cut is given a loose, post-bop feel by Tyner's comping, but things are brought back to earth by Mobley's emotional playing. A number of exchanges between Morgan and Mobley's horns give the piece an effective ending. "Chain Reaction" gives this group nearly 11 minutes to stretch things out, while "Soft Impressions" features a heavy blues groove. A couple of other standouts on this album -- "This Feelin's Good" and "Yes Indeed" -- feature trumpeter Donald Byrd, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Butch Warren, and drummer Philly Joe Jones. Hancock provides a distinctive backdrop for Mobley and Morgan's solos while turning in some fine work himself. Mobley shines on Sy Oliver's "Yes Indeed," delivering a soulful solo, shot through with the blues. His playing throughout Straight No Filter is warm, accessible, and inventive, and it is instructive to have these sessions side by side, giving the listener a chance to compare Mobley's work in different settings. It should be mentioned that he penned eight out of the nine of these fine compositions. Bob Blumenthal's liner notes are helpful, breaking down the individual sessions and providing a good overview of Mobley's career. Straight No Filter will be welcomed by Mobley's fans and lovers of hard bop. It shouldn't be missed. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.