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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke

Celebrating the Jazz Couriers


Trio Records TR 00556

  1. Autumn Leaves
  2. A Foggy Day
  3. Guys and Dolls
  4. Yesterdays
  5. Royal ascot
  6. If This Isn’t Love

Martin Drew – Drums
Nigel Hitchcock – Tenor
Mornington Lockett – Tenor
Steve Melling – Piano
Andrew Cleyndert – Bass

For those who don’t know about them, the original Jazz Couriers were a band fronted by Ronnie Scott and Tubby Hayes, which did it’s first gig at The Flamingo Club in London on April 7th. 1957. It was probably the finest Jazz Quintet around at the time and they did gigs all over the UK, some of them on a tour with the Dave Brubeck Quartet. I heard both bands at the Coventry Theatre and what a night that was, it is sad to think that neither Ronnie nor Tubby or Paul Desmond are with us, for that matter neither is the Coventry Theatre. The Couriers were enormously popular, even though the band was only together for two years; everyone who was around at the time fondly remembers them. Fortunately they recorded a lot of the arrangements that Tubby wrote for the band and so at least something was preserved for posterity! The Couriers played their final gig in Cork, Ireland in August of 1959.

The idea of the New Jazz Couriers came out of a post gig conversation between Mornington Lockett and Martin Drew. Unfortunately, no-one new of the whereabouts of Tubby’s arrangements for the band and Mornington agreed to carry out the monumental task of copying the arrangements from the records. He has made a great job of it and they are instantly recognisable.

The first appearance of the New Jazz Couriers was at the Coventry Jazz Festival of August 2000 at the Leofric Hotel. I was fortunate enough to be there and as soon as I heard the new band, I knew the Couriers were alive! Martin Drew led the band and the new front line of Mornington Lockett and Nigel Hitchcock, was driven along by the superb rhythm section of Martin, Steve Melling and Andrew Cleyndert.

To have to play in a band with Tubby Hayes, who to my mind was the best jazz musician this country has produced, must have been an enormous challenge for Ronnie Scott. Tubby was always likely to blow anybody away at any time! In the New Couriers things are more evenly matched, I rate both Mornington and Nigel Hitchcock very highly indeed, they are both excellent and different enough in style that you can tell who plays each solo. Martin Drew is worthy of special mention, to hold down the drum chair in the Oscar Peterson Trio you have to be enormously talented. I have heard him play in all sorts of company, including many visiting Americans, each has been highly complimentary of his playing.

Whilst the arrangements are the ones that Tubby wrote and Mornington copied, after the written parts, it is pure New Jazz Couriers and the whole band have the opportunity to express themselves. The tunes are well known apart from Royal Ascot which is a Tubby Hayes original with a strong melody line.

Do not mistake this as being a throwback band. Tubby was many years ahead of his time, which is proved by how fresh his arrangements and compositions sound today.

The New Jazz Couriers are entirely worthy of the name.

Don Mather



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