Hank Mobley, Al Cohn, John Coltrane, Zoot Sims – Tenor Conclave (1957/2014)
DSF Stereo DSD64/2.82MHz | Time – 43:57 minutes | 1,73 GB | Genre: Jazz
Source: ISO SACD | © Prestige Records
This unusual meeting of four tenor saxophone players from different “schools” was part of the Prestige Friday afternoon jam session series but far from a typical outing. The giant forebears of Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, and Charlie Parker inform the backgrounds of the performers on this LP — Hank Mobley, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims, and John Coltrane — and other influences such as Ben Webster, Dexter Gordon, and the Sonnys (Stitt and Rollins) show up, too, depending on which of the four protagonists you’re talking about.
With the Red Garland Trio supplying the underpinning, the four tenors meet on the common ground of the blues (“Bob’s Boys”), “I Got Rhythm” (“Tenor Conclave”), and two old standards. (The originals are by Mobley.) Rather than the stylistic differences, what stands out here is the compatibility and spirit of the four meeting on this common ground in an uncommon session.
These four sides should not be hard to locate, as the primary participants in this November 30, 1956, session have all issued them within their individual catalogs. However Tenor Conclave was first released as credited to the “leaderless” Prestige All-Stars — consisting of tenor saxophonists John Coltrane, Hank Mobley, Al Cohn, and Zoot Sims. Providing support are pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Art Taylor. The Mobley-penned title track commences the effort with the quartet of tenors showing off their stuff in high-flying style. It takes a couple of passes and somewhat of a trained ear to be able to link the players with their contributions, but as is often the case, the whole tends to be greater than the sum of the parts. After a brief introduction with all four rapidly reeling off short riffs, Mobley charges ahead into truly inspired territory. The midtempo take of “Just You, Just Me” keeps things lively with a light swinging pace that is custom-made for bringing the combo’s jocular side to the surface, particularly toward the end as they “trade fours,” with each tenor blowing four bars before passing the melody on. The other Mobley composition is “Bob’s Boys,” and by all accounts it is the most compelling piece on the outing. The blues-based tune rollicks as Coltrane, Mobley, Cohn, and Sims find themselves configured in a seeming myriad of sonic face-offs. Wrapping up Tenor Conclave is an ultra-cool and sophisticated “How Deep Is the Ocean?” Cohn commences the long and luscious reading with a subtle strength, suggesting the powerful undercurrent flowing throughout the number. Also, listeners are treated to what is possibly Garland’s finest interaction, leading right into Sims, Chambers, and finally a sublime Coltrane caboose. –Lindsay Planer
1 Tenor Conclave 11:02
2 Just You, Just Me 9:26
3 Bob’s Boys 8:17
4 How Deep Is The Ocean 15:03
Al Cohn, John Coltrane, Hank Mobley, Zoot Sims – tenor saxophone
Red Garland – piano
Paul Chambers – bass
Art Taylor – drums
Recorded: September 7, 1956 at Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ