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

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Symphony - The Lost session




Symphony – The Lost session


2.Autumn Leaves

3.A Certain Smile

4.I Thought About You

5.Sonnymoon For Two

Tubby Hayes (tenor sax, flute), The Tony Lee trio: Tony Lee (piano), Tony Archer (bass), Dick Brennan (drums) at The Hopbine, North Wembley, London, UK on Tuesday February 8, 1972. [63:57]

A year ago on 30th January Tubby Hayes would have celebrated his 80th birthday had he lived and when you hear this disc it will strike you once again how remarkable it is that he achieved so much despite dying so tragically at the ridiculously early age of 38. The other thing this disc shows is that, far from the spent force that some critics had it at the time, Tubby Hayes, who had just emerged from hospital, played with the same level of dynamism that he always did. The Hopbine’s impresario Tommy Whittle recalled in 2005 that at the time of Hayes’ very last session there later in 1972, despite pleading with him to take it easy “It was the one thing Tubby could not do. The music overflowed from him like a volatile liquid at boiling point.” That’s precisely the impression that comes over here; an irrepressible force of nature in full magnificent flood. Another feeling I always get when listening to Tubby is that he is a supreme example of what is great about British jazz, something which many American jazz lovers find surprising; he was proof positive that Britain has never been second fiddle in jazz terms to the US and can match it in every way.

This ‘lost’ session was thought until recently as having been irretrievably lost and so this re-mastered version is a cause for celebration and will become a prized gem in anyone’s collection of Tubby Hayes’ fabulous jazz legacy.

Hayes biographer saxophonist Simon Spillett notes how ironic it is that the disc kicks off with Symphony a number that had been on a disc sent to the US as an audition tape for Blue Note records in 1959 and itself also subsequently mislaid until re-emerging in 2008. Another phenomenon concerning Tubby Hayes that I always feel when listening to him and which this disc amply demonstrates is how much soul he injects into his playing and I often say that if I’m asked to identify a sax player of real quality on a “blind” listening and I can’t tie it down to a black sax player then the chances are that it’s Tubby; he just has more real and raw emotion in his playing and a complete lack of sterility compared to any white player I know; he never just plays the notes but totally inhabits the music.

Both Symphony and Autumn Leaves on which he dazzles on flute are real edge of the seat numbers with the entire quartet giving blistering performances full of real excitement. On each we not only get the full measure of Tubby’s musical genius but superlative performances from the members of the trio in which each shows his mettle in meeting and matchingTubby on the plane he takes them to with his playing. Wonderfully melodic pianism is accompanied by brilliantly measured drumming and truly gorgeous sounds from Tony Archer’s bass.

Whereas many singers tend to hog the limelight, often showing a reluctance to give space to the other members of their team, Tubby was always at pains to be democratic in those terms and with A Certain Smile he steps aside altogether allowing the trio to shine on their own which, of course, they do.

I Thought About You has Tubby in reflective mood showing he could be gentle as well as explosive. In this number you get a real flavour for what it must have been like to have been a member of the audience since there is a great deal of hubbub in the background (not at all like the club I help run in which we all listen rather than chat). However, it did emphasise to me what great value those present were enjoying since Simon Spillett notes that admission charges were a paltry 3/6 (18p/25c) for men and only 2/- (10p/14c) for women which helps explain why The Hopbine in London’s North Wembley was almost always packed to its capacity of 80-100 people. Just imagine hearing musicians of this quality for so little and in London, how times have changed!

Sonnymoon for Two is the last track and there are some great solos for each band member, including a beautiful one from Tony Archer and as the disc comes to an end there is a fantastic one from Dick Brennan which makes for a definitive full stop to a brilliant and enjoyable record that we are so fortunate to be able to hear after the tapes’ disappearance for so many years.

There have been quite a few releases of discs of Tubby Hayes in recent years and this one stands along with any of those as a marvellous record of a true original, a force of nature with an unquenchable zest for life that erupted in some of Britain’s best ever jazz performances and, as such is an absolute must have for his fans.

Steve Arloff

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