The quintet Grand Central unveiled a new lineup with its second album, Tenor Conclave. Ravi Coltrane was still on tenor and soprano sax, and Cindy Blackman was still on drums, but saxman Antoine Roney, pianist Jacky Terrasson, and bassist Santi DeBriano had been replaced by pianist Billy Childs, bassist Dwayne Burno, and saxman Craig Handy (who, like Roney before him, is heard on the tenor exclusively). This 1995 date finds Grand Central paying tribute to tenor titan Hank Mobley. But if you're thinking, "Oh, no! Not another jazz tribute album," please bear in mind that Mobley wasn't the subject of many tributes in the 1990s. While tributes to Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Cole Porter, and George Gershwin were a dime a dozen in the 1990s, Mobley isn't someone whose hard-bop and post-bop compositions have been done to death. But his work certainly deserves attention, and Grand Central's thoughtful interpretations of "Soul Station," "This I Dig of You," "Tenor Conclave," and other Mobley pieces reminds us what a talented composer he was. Mobley was also a first-class soloist, although jazz critics tended to underrate him when he was alive. But make no mistake: Mobley was a saxophone legend who certainly did his part to define the Blue Note sound in the late '50s and '60s. More interesting than Grand Central's previous release, Sax Storm, Tenor Conclave is recommended to those who appreciate Mobley's contributions.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson