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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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TUBBY HAYES

The Complete Tempo
Recordings 1955-59

ACROBAT MUSIC
ACSCD6002

 

 

CD1
Tubby Hayes and his Orchestra - March 1st 1955 
1. Jordu 
2. Orient Line
3. May Ray
4. Monsoon
Tubby Hayes and his Orchestra - April 29th 1955

5. I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart
6. Sophisticated Lady
7. Deuces Wild
Tubby Hayes and his Orchestra - July 14th 1955
8. Fidelius
9. Tootsie Roll
Tubby Hayes Quartet - July 29th 1955
10. Dance of The Aerophragytes
11. There's No You
12. Imagination
13. Peace Pipe
14. Evil Eyes
15. There'll Never Be Another You
16. Opus De Funk
17. Straight Life
Tubby Hayes and his Orchestra - February 18th 1956
18. Medley: The Little Giant, Orient Line
19. Plymouth Rock
20. Room 608
21. Doggin' Around
CD2
Tubby Hayes and his Orchestra - February 18th 1956
1. Sophisticated Lady
2. Mambo Tittoro
3. I'll Remember April
Tubby Hayes Quintet - July 17th 1956
4. Ode To Ernie
5. Foolin' Myself 
6. No, I Woodyn't
7. Message To The Messengers
8. Hall Hears The Blues
9. Nicole
Jazz at The Flamingo - July 31st 1956
10. Introduction byTony Hall/Night In Tunisia
11. Laker's Day
CD3
Tubby Hayes and The Jazz Couriers featuring Ronnie Scott - August 8th 1957
1. The Theme/Through The Night Roared the Overland Express
2. Royal Ascot
3. On A Misty Night
4. On A Misty Night - alternate take
5. Cheek To Cheek/ The Theme
Tubby Hayes and The Jazz Couriers featuring Ronnie Scott - August 15th 1957
6. Oh, My!
7. Plebus
8. Reunion
9. A Foggy Day
The Jazz Couriers, February 16th 1958, Dominion Theatre
10. Introduction by Tony Hall/What Is This Thing Called Love?
CD4
The Jazz Couriers, February 16th 1958, Dominion Theatre
1. The Serpent
2. Guys and Dolls
3. Time Was
4. Speak Low
5. Cheek To Cheek
Tubby Hayes plays alto, tenor, baritone, vibes and piano, March 1958
6. Time Was
7. Blues For Those Who Thus Desire
8. The Eighth Wonder
The Couriers of Jazz, November 1958
9. Mirage
10. After Tea
11. Stop The World, I Want To Get Off!
12. In Salah
13. Star Eyes
14. The Monk
CD5
The Couriers of Jazz, November 1958
1. My Funny Valentine
2. Day In, Day Out
London Jazz Quartet - May 14th 1959
3. Wait and See
4. The Toff
5. Lakeland
6. Sadie's Song
7. Copper on The Beat
8. Let Nature Take Its Course
9. Slick Riff
10. Big Ben Bounce
11. Mirage
12. Autumn In Cuba
13. Fishin' The Blues
14. Cheekie Chappie
15. London Lament
16. The Baron's Blues
The Jazz Couriers - June 26th or July 3rd 1959
17. If This Isn't Love
18. Easy To Love
19. Whisper Not
20. Autumn Leaves
CD6
The Jazz Couriers - June 26th or July 3rd 1959
1. Too Close For Comfort
2. Yesterdays
3. Love Walked In
Tubby Hayes Quartet - December 1959
4. Tin Tin Deo
5. Embers
6. Like Someone In Love
7. The Surrey With The Fringe On Top
8. Sunny Monday
9. Blue Hayes

6 CD Set [77:13][71:43][61:02][71:06][70:02][57:29]

 

The great British saxophonist and jazz club owner Ronnie Scott was playing a gig in Kingston, London when he was asked if a local lad could sit in on a number and "This little boy came up, not much bigger than his tenor sax. Rather patronisingly I suggested a number and off he went. He scared me to death." It is one of those stories to which can be added the words "and the rest is history" because it is for at the age of 15 Edward Brian "Tubby" Hayes left school and began playing professionally, having taken up the saxophone at the tender age of eleven. I always say that I can tell black players from white as my general impression is that black players play with more soul and that white players' sound tends to be more `clinical', and that when I am wrong the player often turns out to be Tubby Hayes; he plays with as much soul as one could wish for and then some. I acknowledge that this is a controversial and arguable generalisation but the fact that Hayes was later frequently compared to players such as Sonny Stitt, Sonny Rollins and Frank Foster proves it to me. Simon Spillett's fantastically well researched and written 16 page booklet explains the background to jazz in Britain at the time Tubby first appeared on the scene saying "British jazzmen were continually reminded that theirs was a second-hand idiom, learned by rote and to which they had no cultural birthright." The fact that Tubby Hayes was such a glaring exception is what makes him stand out from almost every other British jazz musician, especially when it comes to the saxophone. Though of course he matured and his style was further honed with the passing of the years it did seem, as witnessed in Kingston by Ronnie Scott that he had emerged fully formed and the 86 tracks on this 6 cd set were all recorded before his 25th birthday. Listen to his solos on Peace Pipe and Straight Life, recorded on July 29th 1955 when he was just 20 and I think you'll agree. Simon Spillett also explains how the previous generation of sax players such as Don Rendell (still playing at 87!), Tommy Whittle and Ronnie Scott had come through playing in dance bands having to add the rules of bebop to what they already knew which was a transition that Tubby Hayes did not need to go through so he really hit the ground running. He was a consummate artist who was equally at home playing soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxes as well as piano, clarinet, bass clarinet, tympani and flute and was a brilliant and thoughtful vibes player. I wish I'd seen him live and regret the fact that I didn't, especially as I note that tracks 10 & 11 on cd3 and 1-5 on cd4 were recorded at London's Dominion Theatre in February 1958 at which time I worked for the Rank Organisation which owned it and had my lunch every day in the theatre canteen! However, I only got into jazz the year after and it took some time before I progressed to the jazz of people such as Hayes having first come through listening to the MJQ and other `safe' sounding bands and it was an absolute revelation when I did discover Tubby Hayes and I've been one of his greatest fans ever since. It was only a few years after that first encounter that Ronnie Scott had of Tubby that he played alongside him and there are several examples of this on discs in this wonderful compilation. One such was an attempt to recreate the atmosphere of the Flamingo club at a West Hampstead pub `The Railway Arms' when the two great tenorists share the sax limelight on two numbers Night in Tunisia and leader Tony Crombie's Laker's Day when the pair feed off each other in a really exciting way and which also includes some lovely sounds from Harry Klein's dreamy baritone. Indeed for an all too brief period the two sax giants played together in The Jazz Couriers, a band they co-lead and cds 3 & 4 cover this period with further examples on cds 5&6. With the third cd in this set we experience Tubby's prowess on vibes, the first example being one of his originals Royal Ascot, showing how versatile a musician he was. Irving Berlin’s Cheek to Cheek is a great example of the saxes of Tubby and Ronnie egging each other on to deliver some blistering playing; it’s not for nothing that Spillett uses the phrase “flying sweat” to describe the atmosphere created by the Jazz Couriers and Allan Ganley’s Oh, My! is a further pertinent example. You have to continually remind yourself that Tubby was still only 22 when these tracks were recorded as his sound seems so mature, despite its further development over time. Tubby’s compositional abilities continued apace as well and cd4 opens with one of his entitled The Serpent, a brilliant catchy tune you’d swear you’d heard before even if you hadn’t which to me is always the mark of a good composer. However, tracks 6-8 feature was what at the time a wacky experiment (somewhat more common today) in which he was overdubbed playing piano showing another side to his musicianship, as well as alto, tenor, baritone and vibes and which were released on an EP (45 rpm ‘extended play’) entitled The Eight Wonder, obviously! The rest of this cd is made of another record called The Couriers of Jazz from November 1958 starting with a lovely rendition of Mirage a composition the listing gives as being written by Howard Robert though Spillett’s notes seem to imply Hayes wrote it but it’s wonderful regardless. Another of Tubby’s compositions follows entitled After Tea a beautifully laid back tune with some brilliantly dreamy playing from all concerned, especially Terry Shannon on piano and it’s no wonder Spillett makes a favourable comparison with Horace Silver for the sound created by the band. Tubby’s thoughtful and incisive writing is also brought out in spades with the amusing and affectionate take on Thelonius Monk The Monk. The fifth cd in the set opens with a great performance of My Funny Valentine with a beautiful vibes solo from Tubby and dreamy sax playing from both him and Ronnie Scott, continuing The Couriers of Jazz 12” LP which closes with Day In, Day Out which has a fabulous horn solo from the aptly nicknamed ‘Little Giant’ that exhibits all the hallmarks of the best US sax players. The ensuing 14 tracks were mostly penned by drummer and pianist Tony Crombie released on a 12” LP entitled The London Jazz Quartet and which comprises short gentle pieces designed for background music for TV programmes rather than anything in which a jazz musician’s normal wish to improvise is in evidence. However, it does include Tubby’s first excursion into playing the flute, another instrument he later mastered. The penultimate cd finishes with the first four tracks of a record entitled The Jazz Couriers – The Last Word which self explanatory title signalled an end to this highly successful band that had so many devoted fans but running out of creative steam it had to happen, much to the fans’ huge regret. After the rather saccharin sweetness of tracks 3-16 these four tracks come as welcome relief with a return to the improvisatory brilliance of Tubby’s blistering sax cutting through the tunes partnered as ever on these recordings by the late lamented Ronnie Scott whose club introduced British Jazz fans to so many wonderful musicians over the years. I have to agree with Spillett when he observed how difficult it was at times on these late recordings of The Jazz Couriers to tell the two tenorists apart though when Tubby’s playing vibes that at least lets you know any sax playing has to be Scott. On Whisper Not and Autumn Leaves however, while Ronnie Scott sounds more like Tubby than he did when the group first played together, Tubby sounds distinctly like Milt Jackson when playing vibes with that silky smooth sound that Jackson made his own. The final cd in this scintillating set of discs begins with the last 3 tunes from ‘The Last Word’ of The Jazz Couriers opening with a great performance of Too Close For Comfort followed by Yesterdays and Love Walked In. It is a bit of an emotional wrench to bid them goodbye for they were such an iconic band in their time and many jazz sax players who came after were nurtured on the sounds from them including as Spillett notes the likes of Dick Morrissey, Alan Skidmore and Art Themen. The rest of the disc, however, is of Tubby’s preferred line-up of sax, piano, bass and drums (mine too) in which he could take the creative centre spot giving him the greatest scope to improvise while leading. Spillett notes too that it was here that some of Tubby’s detractors made their points about his over dominating role which tended to subjugate the rhythm section to one of simply accompanying him with some slightly more individual work from pianist Terry Shannon though even here it is often just a few chords that intervene to back him as happens particularly with the opener Tin Tin Deo. However, you’re unlikely to find many real Hayes fans regarding this as much of a disappointment even if they concede that it is true and the British jazz scene’s bible Melody Maker made the LP that these numbers are taken from, Tubby’s Groove, the first British one to be awarded their coveted Album of the Month status – So There! one is tempted to add. This record was the final one that Hayes made for Tempo whose owner Decca had lost what little interest it had in producing jazz and who shelved the planned subsequent project leading to Hayes abandoning ship to migrate to Fontana with the hope of making further inroads into the US market which he did indeed achieve to some extent both as a recording artist and performer. What we have though in the shape of this collection is further proof if needed of the singular contribution that Tubby Hayes made to jazz in Britain which continued right through the 60s and still benefits today’s musicians. It was him as much as anyone else who showed the world and America in particular that British Jazz, while it may have its own special flavour, was equal to anything that could come from ‘over the pond’. Signing off with his own composition Blue Hayes this set comes to an end in great style with his pensive sax playing him out. As a document this 6 cd set is as invaluable as the music it contains which includes some extra tracks from Tubby’s Groove that had been auditioned by Blue Note and then lost and which has taken 50 years to find and release. The restoration of sound quality is excellent and you have to constantly remind yourself that these recordings date back almost 60 years. I’ve already mentioned what excellent notes Simon Spillett’s are which tell the full story behind the recordings. There is really only one gripe and that is that I’d have preferred the discs in cardboard sleeves in a cardboard outer since the biggest frustration for me with the cd as a medium is and has always been the jewel case which so often breaks within or without and this one is difficult to open and then to reclose so Acrobat please note for any future releases. That apart I cannot praise this set too highly and there is no doubt whatever that all Tubby Hayes fans will fall over themselves to acquire it especially at the attractive price and I shall now have to go ‘cold turkey’ while I come down from the high it has left me with.
 
Steve Arloff



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