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Tenor Conclave
Various Artists
Tenor Conclave
Genres: Jazz, Pop
  •  Track Listings (4) - Disc #1


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All Artists: Various Artists
Title: Tenor Conclave
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Ojc
Release Date: 7/1/1991
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Styles: Cool Jazz, Bebop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 025218012720

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CD Reviews

Four Brothers (all winners, but Mobley takes the prize): Req
Samuel Chell | Kenosha,, WI United States | 08/31/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Surprisingly, Coltrane doesn't blow everyone else away on this somewhat unusual date, which suggests that his respect for diversity was much greater than that of many listeners for whom you had to like either Coltrane or Cohn, but not both. It's significant that the date is under Mobley's name, at the time of the recording the more high-profile musician, and to the attentive listener he shows why. There would be a Prestige sequel to this one--"Two Tenors"--under Coltrane's name. Equally excellent, though not reissued to my knowledge. In any case, this remastering brings out the rhythm section (Paul Chambers and Red Chambers) and captures the individual voices of each of the four principals without annoying "enhancements."

To sharp ears, there's no mistaking Coltrane's commanding sound and execution, even on the opening quick succession of solos leading off the title track. But all four players acquit themselves well and are close to their representative best. Perhaps the most eye-opening track is the extended ballad, Berlin's "How Deep Is the Ocean." Cohn leads off with supreme serenity, as inventive and relaxed as if he were the only saxophonist in the studio. Sims is almost equally in command. Then Coltrane appears to steal the show, leaving the listener wondering if Mobley's even going to show up and, if so, why?

Not only does Hank take the tune out in grand style, but he leaves the lasting impression! There's little doubt in my mind that between 1954 and 1964 no saxophonist possessed the inventive melodic gifts of Mobley who, in addition, dazzles with some memorable cadenza work. This one helps to make up for the "mismatch" that occurred when Miles Davis later paired the same two players on "Someday My Price Will Come."

"Cutting contests" are not for everyone, but if you really care about these four individuals or are a musician or are practicing hearing musicians as other musicians do, here are a few pointers for following the road map:

1. Mobley will bookend the session, taking the very first solo and the very last one.
2. Notice the four quick 2-bar exchanges at the top of the first number, Mobley's title tune: It's Mobs, Coltrane, Sims and Cohn. When they play extended solos, they'll vary the order, with Coltrane going last.
3. Many of today's listeners will hear the first three tunes as repetitious because of the similar tempos. To musicians, each presents a different set of challenges because of the chord changes.
4. The first tune, "Tenor Conclave," is Mobley's melody on the chords to Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm" (in Bb), probably the most common song form in jazz after the blues. The arrangement is quite ingenious because of the two-part breaks. The harmonized sound is reminiscent of Woody Herman's 4-Brothers of the 2nd Herd (Woody eliminated alto players from his saxophone sections). "Just You, Just Me" is another 32-bar swing era tune (in Eb), familiar to the public because of Nat Cole but to musicians from Benny Goodman on as a blowing vehicle. The third tune is the same tempo as the first two, but now the interest is in hearing what each of the four can do with a 12-bar blues--a "bebop" blues (far more than that the usual three chords) in F.
5. Finally, the closer is Irving Berlin's lovely ballad (the longest tune on the session). The drums are under-miked, and Chambers is occasionally inattentive (no lead sheet?) to the chords, but the solos are imaginative and deeply felt.

So the session basically presents a total of eight solos by four superior players. The listener will be tested throughout to identify the player because of the numerous exchanges. It's hard not to feel more excitement during the turns of Coltrane and Mobley, though each player has something worthwhile to say. If you know Coltrane, you'll be less surprised than satisfied. If you pull for underdogs, you'll have every right to applaud Mobley's performance--especially what he does after Coltrane on "How Deep Is the Ocean." In fact, apart from Coltrane's sound, the most ceaselessly inventive horn throughout the entire session--to my ears--is Mobley's.

The audio mix is far less "hot" than that on Griffin's "A Blowin' Session," which is so full of thunder and lightning that I have difficulty attending to what the soloists are saying. Another four-tenor battle worth the price of admission is "Very Saxy" (with Jaws, Hawk, and 2 more), and no less invigorating is "Soul Battle" with Jimmy Forrest, King Curtis, and a sublime Oliver Nelson."
Legendary Gathering of Tenor Sax Stars
Donnie The B | USA | 01/15/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This album, now quite rare on vinyl, is a must have for saxophonists and fans of saxy jazz. John Coltrane soars, Zoot Sims swings as usual, Al Cohn lays down some tasty licks and Hank Mobley aquits himself admirably. The rhythm section is more than adequate and the tunes presented are quite enjoyable. Liner notes lead you to be able to recognize the tone of each player - it's fun to guess the solo order on the last tunes."