Session conducted by Les Tomkins
The following blindfold test was carried
out in 1964
“Tubbsville” Tubby Hayes Big Band (Tubby Hayes - tenor, with Bobby Pratt, Stan Roderick. Eddie Blair, Jimmv Deuchar- trumpets, Don Lusher, Jimmy Wilson, Ray Premru - trombones, Alf Reece - tuba, Johnny Scott-piccolo, Terry Shannon - piano, Jeff Clyne - bass, Bill Eyden - drums). Composed and arranged by Tubby Hayes. From “Tubbs”, Fontana.
Procope: I liked that tuba in with the trombones. It was a good big band effort in the modern jazz waltz style. I don’t know who the tenor player was, but he was all right. The overall sound of the whole record was pretty good.
Carney: I agree about the tuba. Wonderful. He established the theme and even when he wasn’t playing you could still follow the pattern. So the arranger did a wonderful job, too. The tenor was commendable. A very good drummer, but in the ensemble part I suppose he was overcome by enthusiasm. The whole thing was very well played. Was that an English band?
Tomkins: What brings you to that conclusion?
Carney: The precision. The English musicians I’ve heard are very precise. They’re serious about what they’re doing – so the result comes off that way, you know.
Procope: I like to listen to a record like that now and again. Why not? It’s good music.
Carney: I was going to ask – is the tenor player the bandleader?
Tomkins: Yes, he was the leader on the date. And he’s a player who worked with you quite recently.
Carney: Oh – Tubby Hayes, huh? Well. Tubby’s a very fine musician. He knows what he’s doing. He’s definitely had a wealth of experience, because to sit in with the band and do such a commendable job he had to be excellent. After all, he must have been under some sort of a strain. We have about the worst book–so far as explaining how to play the arrangements. We don’t have anything cut and dried, that follows through from the left hand corner to the right hand corner. As a matter of fact, I think he played the new music better than we played it!
Procope: Well, in that respect we were all even up, because it was just about as new to us as it was to him.
Carney: Plus the fact that we hadn’t been playing. We’d been off for about a week or ten days.
Procope: Except for a few rehearsals. But I’d just like to throw in an extra plug for Tubby. It’s not just ability and experience when you get thrown in a spot like that. It takes a lot of guts to get up there and do that sort of thing. I’d like to commend Tubby for his great performance.
Carney: And I was very happy to see that the audience at the Royal Festival Hall that night really dug what was going on. He was very warmly applauded. And he not only pleased the audience: the band was knocked out by his playing.
“What It’s All About” Gerry Mulligan/ Johnny Hodges Group (Gerry Mulligan - baritone, Johnny Hodges-alto, Claude Williamson-piano, Buddy Clark -bass, Mel Lewis-drums). Composed by Johnny Hodges. From “Gerry Mulligan Meets Johnny Hodges”, HMV.
Carney: That’s a very good, relaxed, mood record. Of course, I recognised Mulligan. I’ve never heard that session before. I don’t recognise the entire personnel, but the pianist, bass player and drummer all complement the mood. It’s a good feeling in that record. And, of course, my man Rab. They come off very well together. Gerry is another thorough musician. He can fall into, I suppose, any groove, because he’s been around and has had the good fortune of playing with so many fine musicians.
Procope: Very true. I recognised it right away, of course. Though I didn’t know the baritone right off when I first heard him. Because I’m not too familiar with all baritonists–just one or two, maybe. I imagine that was Billy Strayhorn on piano, wasn’t it?
Tomkins: No, was Claude Williamson.
Procope: The touch sounded like Strayhorn.
Carney: Yes, it did. Who were on bass and drums?
Tomkins: Buddy Clark and Mel Lewis. They must have done that in Hollywood.
Procope: Maybe they should- make some more like that. It’s very nice- bluesy, moody and four–o’clock–in–the- morningish.
Tomkins: And you’re in favour of these tie–ins between people who might seem unlikely partners?
Procope: I don’t know what would make unlikely partners. If two people get together in the studio to play music . . .
Carney: They speak the same language.
Procope: People are inclined to categorise–which shouldn’t be done. We are all musicians. whatever might arise. I’ll say that maybe one man–is more adapted to one thing than another. But in a partnership, if we’re both in the same business, we’re going to get along.
Carney: And it’s rewarding to accomplish what you set out to do.
“Spiritus Parkus” Dizzy Reece Sextet (Dizzy Reece - trumpet, Joe Farrell–tenor, Cecil Payne- baritone, Hank Jones–piano, Ron Carter–bass, Charlie Persip –drums). Composed by Cecil Payne. From “Asia Minor”, Esquire.
Procope: Sounded like lots of records you hear nowadays. I couldn’t start to identify anyone–not even the tenor player. I liked the drummer very much. Not one of the Jones boys, by any chance? It wasn’t Elvin? The record, as a whole, wasn’t too definite in any one aspect. The piano player had the most understandable creation in it. I should think the trumpet player was the leader, wasn’t he? Just off–hand, not being familiar with the people in recordings nowadays, I’d say it could be Art Farmer, Miles Davis, Adderley–any one of those fellows. I’d like to hear a record of the drummer and the piano player together. They’d make a good partnership. I feel that they’ve worked together before.
Carney: My first impression, after listening to the preceding record, was that this is entirely a different mood, sound and style–and that the drummer was a very busy man. He plays with confidence throughout, and knows what he’s doing. Had the rest of the group, aside from the pianist, been equally busy it would have been a better record. But it’s a mood for the younger people who are growing up with this music. I dig it–for a certain mood. It’s all according to whom you’re surrounded by. What the baritone played at the beginning he did very well. Well, you know, baritone’s a tough instrument to keep interesting solowise. Those I like are Cecil Payne and, of course, Gerry. And there’s another guy in the States–I don’t know if you’ve heard of him- Andy Brignoli. He’s a sensational player. You have a baritone player here who - though I’ve had the pleasure of knowing him for a number of years – I hadn’t heard play until just last week–Joe Temperley. He has the right approach, I think, to the instrument. His sound is wonderful. Beautiful tone. To me the sound is the most important thing. If you get an interesting sound it commands attention. Joe does it very well. He’s very facile and he has good taste in his playing. So evidently he’s listened to good baritone players.
(Record details given here.)
Carney: That was Cecil Payne! How about that?
Procope: Well, there was one of the Jones boys on it. Hank got the message across, because he was the most prolific. He had more to say than the rest of them–I’ll put it that way. I didn’t know that it was Hank absolutely–but I knew there was a message of some kind there that got over. And the drummer kept that happy sound going all the time.
“Mack The Knife” Dick Hyman at the Lowrey organ (with Tony Mottola–guitar, Phil Kraus–vibes, Bob Haggart–bass Osie Johnson–drums, Bob Rosen- garden–bongoes). From “Electrodynamics”, Command.
Carney: That’s a bitch of a record––oh, forgive my French! The guy commanded attention right at the very beginning. That’s important–but this guy follows through, too. He has technique, and a mind in which he’s compiled or borrowed ideas and incorporated it all in his playing. And he goes through the different things with the instrument sounds. It’s got a good swing–something you could pat your hand to. The whole rhythm section was very good.
Procope: I gather that was an organ, and that he was the leader. Didn’t he have a vibraphone? Why didn’t he give him a solo?
Tomkins: Well, the record was made for the purpose of demonstrating the scope of the Lowrey organ.
Procope: Well, it would have been a hundred per cent better record with a vibraphone solo in there. An organ at best, whether high or low, has to be monotonous. You don’t have any way of tempering the tone–specially playing ‘em this way. Nowadays they use an organ as a medium to swing and play jazz. They play, like this fellow did, all over the keyboard with the right hand. Then they have a rhythm section to back ‘em up. To be truthful, I’m a bit biased to the sound. The organ has progressed–or maybe it isn’t progress either. I used to associate an organ with church. Then, after I got a little older, with the theatre–and later with a cocktail lounge. Now you associate it with records, where you just hear this one–note deal. And an organ basically is a beautiful instrument. So I can’t think too much of that.
“Marching Through Georgia” Jack Dorsey and his Top Rank Dance Orchestra. Arranged by Jack Dorsey. From “Dancing Round The World”, Pye Golden Guinea.
Procope: Well, that’s a big band record, isn’t it? I recognised that. Ensemble all the way–no solos at all. I liked the third and fourth bar in the first chorus very much. They kept repeating that, and that was a pretty good thing. The rest of it was not too elaborate, but I thought it was good big band–what we used to call dance music. The reed section were pretty precise and nice in their spots. And I liked the exciting ending, with the high trumpets and the tag on the end. The arranger did a good job in writing that. It really ended. A lot of times you have arrangements that don’t end–they just stop. The whole record was good. But just one observation–not criticism–if it was my band and I’d recorded it I’d have played it just a bit slower. Because it sounded a little herky–jerky. I think it would have swung more if it had been slowed down just a trifle.
Carney: Well, my thought was the same. The arranger did a grand job. The musicians were very precise, and had it been in a little different tempo it would have had a more relaxed feeling. There’s a certain stiffness that enters the picture if you don’t have the right tempo. It’s very interesting as an overall big band sound. It was very well recorded. And, as Procope said, the third and fourth bars are catchy––gives you something to remember, to hang on to. And the ending, as Procope also said, is very definite. You’re not left hanging–or it’s not a fade–out ending. The complete arrangement was excellent. The man has a verv sound knowledge of instrumentation, and he is also fortunate to have had some very good trumpet players. And I liked the sound of the reeds. Very commendable job done by all.
“Satin Doll” Ella Fitzgerald with Count Basie and his Orchestra. Composed by Duke Ellington. Lyrics by Johnny Mercer Arranged by Quincy Jones From “Ella and Basie!” Verve
Carney: From the introduction you’re prepared for a band. The quality is so good. Then the surprise thing is the vocalist entering the picture–and she’s excellent. There’s a combination of the sound of Basie and the sound of Ella Fitzgerald.
Procope: I’ve heard of her–yes. I didn’t recognise it until Ella started singing, but it’s a very, very outstanding job. As far as partnerships are concerned, they don’t always come off. But that one came off beautifully. You see, you have an Ellington tune, the Basie band and Ella Fitzgerald singing. If that don’t come off–I’ll just pack up my horn and quit. Crazy, I’d say–real crazy. I’d like to listen to it again. If I don’t have that at home I’ll make a point to get it.
Carney: Yes, I’ll have to get that also. This is my first time hearing it. In my collection–when I buy a record it’s one that I think I’d like to listen to ten years hence. And this is one I’ll have to have.
Procope: I only buy the things I like very very much, because there’s too many records on the market to try to keep up with all of ‘em. You know–you just can’t do that.
“Ecclusiastics” Roland Kirk - tenor, manzello, stritch, with the Benny Golson Orchestra. Composed by Charlie Mingus. Arranged by Benny Golson. From “The Roland Kirk Quartet Meets The Benny Golson Orchestra”, Mercury
Procope: That was in F, wasn’t it?
Carney: I think the arranger threw the book at us. What they started off with sounded a little familiar–in the Far East vein. They go through various moods in this record. They prepare you to listen to one thing, then jump into another groove. Then when you’re in that particular groove they switch over to another. It’s a contrived or compiled thing. I don’t think I’ll buy that. But the performance was good. The tenor saxophone player is evidently very familiar with the horn.
Procope: He’s probably familiar with the arrangement. Probably he wrote it. didn’t? Well, I’ve heard that sort of big band thing before. Arrangers like to go through their exercises and gymnastics. This one was too far out, I would say. It doesn’t arrive at anything, actually. There were a couple of progressions in there which I liked. The one where the tenor player ran through the chord changes, and another one where the tuba played the progression which went up the scale. The rest of it had a whole lot of sounds, but it didn’t get off the ground as a musical composition. (Details given here). Oh, Roland Kirk. Well, only on the multi–blowing of the horns would I recognise him. As a matter of fact, we worked with him once.
Carney: In Detroit, wasn’t it? Greystone Ballroom.
Procope: That’s right, and he played these three saxophones at the same time. I’d never seen any one do that before. He brought the house down that night. It was quite–good.
Carney: When you hear him on a single instrument he’s amazing. I heard him real good at Newport–and the things he does with the flute are fantastic, man. He’s just heavenly blessed and very talented.
“My Man’s Gone Now” Buddy DeFranco/Tommy Gumina Quartet (Buddy DeFranco–clarinet, Tommy Gumina–accordio–organ, John Doling–bass, John Guerin–drums). Composed by George Gershwin. From “Polytones” Mercury
Procope: Well, I want to thank him for the last eight bars. It reallv sounded like an organ. otherwise it was just the usual what–have–you. An odd pairing–first time I’ve heard a clarinet with an organ, I think. I don’t know who the players were, but, unlike the usual run of so–called organists in the jazz idiom, this man played a lot of full chords. It wasn’t a whole lot of one- finger passages–it was a real handful of keys. I liked that.
Carney: A lot of it was sort of reminiscent to me of things you hear in background music for pictures–or something real weird on TV. I thought the clarinettist was very, very good–and the organist. But for listening–l would like to see something, too. I think it would be excellent behind a story.
Tomkins: That was Buddy DeFranco on clarinet. But it wasn’t a conventional organ. Tommy Gumina was playing an accordio-organ, which can be made to sound like either an accordion or an organ, or both together.
Carney: He’s a wonderful musician. One thing I noticed was that, on his fast runs, each note was very clear and distinct–for an organ. So that explains how he had such precision.
“What’s New?” Jimmy Forrest Quartet (Jimmy Forrest–tenor, Harold Mabern–piano, Gene Ramey–bass, Elvin Jones–drums) From “All The Gin Is Gone” Seventy–Seven
Carney: The tune was originally done as an instrumental called “I’m Free”. The classic version was. I think, by the trumpeter, Billy ‘Butterfield. Afterwards it became “What’s New?” It’s a beautiful tune. One thing the tenor player did very well- when he went up above the range of the instrument. It could have been an alto - who knows? But to me it sounded very full–toned.
Procope: It was a tenor, wasn’t it? Yes. But it’s not unusual for a lot of tenor players, on the high notes, to get that sort of sound as they get further up on the top of the instrument. The tone gets smaller–that’s why you can say it sounds like an alto. That was Stan Getz. wasn’t it? No?
Carney: I didn’t think it was Stan.
Tomkins: It was Jimmy Forrest.
Carney: Well, we worked with him, but I never heard him play like this.
Procope: No, he was furthest from my mind.
Tomkins: Would you say there was some Coleman Hawkins influence in his playing?
Carney: No. I’m familiar enough with Hawkins’ work. That’s one man I don’t think you could throw me for a loss on. I don’t care how well anybody imitates him–l think I can detect Hawkins. For influences I’d have to listen again.
Procope: It was a good interpretation of the tune.
“Duet Solo Dancers” Charlie Mingus Group (Charlie Mariano–alto, Dick Hafer –tenor, Jerome Richardson–baritone, Rolf Ericson, Richard Williams ––trumpets, Quentin Jackson–trombone, Don Butterfield–tuba, Jaki Byard–piano, Charlie Mingus- bass, Danny Richmond–drums). Composed by Charlie Mingus. From “The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady” HMV
Carney: At the very beginning the piano sounded very much like Ellington making an opening statement. And the band used some of Ellington’s devices. This is another record that sort of got away from the introduction–which we generally think of as something which prepares you for what’s to follow. I enjoyed the introductory part- then I suppose they decided to revert back to the same mood at the end. But it sounded over–dramatic, musically. Would that have been Stan Kenton? No? I’ve heard him do that kind of thing–with the exception of the plunger trombone. This was done very well by the trombonist. I also noticed there was quite a bit of baritone work in it. That’s why I thought of Kenton–because he seems to be baritone- conscious, too–as well as having the alto on top. Any arranger could borrow some ideas from the record, so I suppose it has some wealth.
Procope: I don’t know who it was. The trombone player reminded me of ‘Butter’- Quentin Jackson, who used to play with us. Ordinarily, I’d say that was him playing. The whole thing that came in my mind when I first heard the Ellington–type piano, then the opening strains–it sounded like it might have been, you know, “Black, Brown, Beige, Green, Yellow, Purple, Aquamarine”–what have you. It was a sort of a conglomeration like that. I heard distinct passages that were definitely from Ellingtonia. This thing was an arranger’s dream. Whoever wrote it–I’d say it’s a good point for him to work from. He should develop it, take from it, add to it–and simplify it. If I had that to play, I don’t think I’d get any particular kick out of it. It would be just playing a score. Its musical value is as a proving ground. It won’t make history. This type of thing has been done before.
Copyright © 1964 Les Tomkins. All Rights Reserved