The closing track on
this CD was recorded in January 1963, It constitutes the beginning
of the first of two lengthy conversations I recorded with the
legendary British jazz musician Tubby Hayes. 13 years earlier,
in 1950. as a teenage club promoter. I had "discovered"
him when he turned up one night to "sit in" with the
club group. We were immediately aware of potential greatness in
the playing of this stocky young Raynes Park lad. As you can surmise
from our chatTubby and I socialised quite a bit after that,
and I wish I'd had the facilities then to record the amazing music
heard at private parties. All I have is a piece of vinyl made
in a local studio. Later In the year. when I opened a new club
in a larger room at Rosehill, Sutton, Surrey, I asked Tubby to
lead the house band, which included two other late greats, Harry
South on piano and Terry Brown on trumpet. From then on, patrons
and musicians alike had effusive comments to make about the sheer
energy and enthusiasm of Tubby's considerable jazz skills. I have
a vivid mental picture of the way he clearly enjoyed the solos
of his colleagues, egging them on with eager vocal sounds.
tenor legend Ronnie Scott was one who, after first hearing him,
used the word "fantastic" about Tubby, and did so many
more times before the instance here. During the interview segment
you can hear Tubby expressing his gratitude to me for bringing
about their initial get-together, personally and musically. Their
talents merged so splendidly on that occasion. their mutual respect
so obvious, that it is surprising it took them a further seven
years before they began their outstanding two-year alliance as
The Jazz Couriers. The Couriers blew up a storm till 1959in
the October of which Ronnie, In collaboration with Pete King,
opened the original premises of the world-famous club that bears
his name, wherein the music on this CD was made.
At a club
in Acton, W3 in 1951, I was able to make my other contribution
to the progress of Tubby' s too-short 22-year jazz career, by
helping instigate another significant sit-inwith the great
brassman Kenny Baker. As a result. Tubby turned professional at
16, and spent a year with the Baker Sextet. His route continued
through various partly-commercial big bandsAmbrose, Vic
Lewis, Jack Parnellalong with making the most of more pure
jazz situations, such as his eight-piece and the Downbeat Big
It was in
1961 that Tubby started a series of successful trips to the States,
in a reciprocal Union exchange deal that enabled Zoot Sims to
be the first American musician to appear in Ronnie's. In New York
he discovered: '"Most of the musicians that I met over there
are very much more conscientious than they are over herebecause
it' s tough. Even if they've got a name, there' s so much competition.
But there is a lot of enthusiasm. and a lot of hard workwhich
is probably why they come up with such good players." He
was invited to play and record with some of the very besttrumpet
giant Clark Terry, saxophone aces Roland Kirk, James Moody. Paul
Gonsalves and Benny Golson, supported by such sterling rhythm
men as Eddie Costa, Walter Bishop Jr., Cedar Walton, Sam Jones
and Louis Hayes. Nevertheless, he consistently voiced his strong
allegiance to his British session-matesin fact, when it
was suggested that he might follow the examples of such compatriots
as Shearing and Feldman and move to the USA to work, he made this
prophetic statement: "I would like to go over and work there
for a whilebut I do think that in a few years' time it won't
be so important. Jazz is getting so international."
improving quality of home-grown jazz at this time is evident from
these performances I captured on tape in 1964 and 1965, during
that glorious opening decade In the Scott Club' s history. Three
facets of Tubby' s talent are not represented here: the writinghe
cites some of its origins in the interview; the flute, in which
he emulated Roland Kirk' s humming effects; the vibes. which he
added after purchasing Victor Feldman's original instrument, having
been inspired by his playing. But there' s a substantial feast
of his much-admired tenor interpretationsa selection of
upbeat highlights from just four of many exciting nights.
of the symbolic Ronnie intro, Opus Ocean, one of several compositions
given to Tubby by Clark Terry, was actually the final item in
one of the first of his sets that I had the chance to record,
after being "installed" by Ronnie and Pete. I chose
it as a prime example of the classic quintet he had with the late
Scots-born trumpet man, Jimmy Deuchar. whom I knew originally
as a member of the Dankworth Seven in that same 1950 club. Jimmy's
dazzling technique kicks off this fleet flagwaver, as a prelude
to a stunning seven-minute Tubby solo, four minutes of which are
exactly thatthe tenor all alone, unaccompanied, pouring
out a ceaseless flow of creativity.
of the CD illustrates how Tubby, In a quartet setting, could take
major standard songs and fashion immensely personal jazz out of
them, usually giving the actual melody no more than a token reference.
A Weaver Of Dreams, a superior chord sequence still relatively
rarely used, is exploited with maximum expertise. Pianist Terry
Shannon, still Tubby' s first choice fourteen months later, is
tellingly heard. After a spate of fours and a fine Clyne spot,
Tubby takes it out with a slowed-down coda. Nobody Else But Me
is also far from overdone considering its useable properties,
and follows a similarly satisfying course to its predecessor that
night, with the exchanges with the Goodman drums being increased
to eights. There's a break in chronology to allow a "different'
quartet's inclusion, Tubby utilising the guitar of Johnny Fourie.
who was at the start of a four-year holiday from his native South
African scene. His commanding display enhances a Latin-flavoured
treatment of On Green Dolphin Street. As a dynamic climax to this
choice cross-section from my many Hayes recordings, we have a
gem from a batch I took down on the very last night at the Gerrard
Street venue, or The Old Place, as it came to be called. By Myself,
usually relished by singers as a sad end-of-romance ballad, here
brings us some of Tubby' s most forthright, diverse improvisation.
His ten-minute tour de force doesn' t hint at the tune for over
two minutes, and not again till six minutes later. His absorbing
exposition is by turns ruminative and rumbustious, mainly the
latter. Another piano master. Gordon Beck is heard to great advantage
on an extended intro and a long, sumptuous solo. The reason for
the crowd sounds is that this night was treated as much as a party
as a normal session, and, as you can hear. the musicians rose
wholeheartedly to the occasion.
Tubby Hayes was only 38 when the British jazz
world was robbed of his genius. These tracks remind us of what
we had, and are part of his valuable legacy.
Extract from the CD cover notes by Les Tomkins.
© MMIV Harkit
Copyright © 2003, Jazz Professional. All