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Breakthrough by Cedar Walton & The Hank Mobley Quintet

There's a woeful paradox involved with this album because in many ways it proves to be the tale of two artists whose lives took markedly different courses following its original release. One of them, Cedar Walton, continues to be a viable jazz pianist, while for Hank Mobley this 1972 session would be his recorded swan song. Even more grievous, if this ensemble had been able to act on the great chemistry that it displays here, it could have been one of the principal working bands of the '70s. Along with saxophonist Charles Davis and a rhythm section that includes Sam Jones and Billy Higgins, Mobley and Walton deliver six diverse cuts, including a seldom-done Jobim line, a few Mobley originals, and even a transcendent version of the sappy "Theme from Love Story" done by just Walton and a trio. The lengthy title cut made its first appearance on Mobley's 1965 Blue Note set, "Dippin."

It makes for an enlightening comparison to put the two versions side by side, with the latter performance revealing a harder edge to Mobley's sound, not to mention the obvious influence of Coltrane. Charles Davis was certainly one of the most individualistic baritone saxophonists of his generation, although he continues to remain sorely neglected, and it takes nothing away from Mobley to suggest that at times he nearly steals the show. From a decade that produced few recorded moments of lasting brilliance, BREAKTHROUGH is a touchstone that belongs in any comprehensive collection.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Cedar Walton & The Hank Mobley Quintet
  • CD Title: Breakthrough
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 1999
  • Record Label: 32 Jazz
  • Rating: Five Stars
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