Exploring Tubby Hayes

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THE VERY BEST OF TUBBY HAYES / SILVER: Opus de Funk.1 HARRY SOUTH: Message to the Messengers.2 BERLIN: Cheek to Cheek.3 HAYES: The Serpent.3 MONK-WILLIAMS-HANIGHEN: ‘Round Midnight.1 HAYES: The Monk.3 HARBURG-LANE: If This Isn’t Love.3 FULLER-GONZALEZ: Tin Tin Deo.1 NOBLE: Cherokee.4 TERRY: Pint of Bitter.5 HAYES: Down in the Village.6 STITT: Stitt’s Tune7 / 1Tubby Hayes Qrt: Hayes, t-sax; Harry South, pno; Pete Elderfield, bs; Bill Eyden, dm. 2Quintet: add Dickie Howden, tpt. 3The Jazz Couriers: Hayes, Ronnie Scott, t-sax; Terry Shannon, pno; Phil Bates, bs; Bill Eyden, dm. 4Jazz Giants: Bobby Pratt, Stan Roderick, Eddie Blair, Jimmy Deucher, tpt; Keith Christie, Don Lusher, Jimmy Wilson, Ray Premru, tb; Hayes, t-sax; Johnny Scott, pic; Alfie Rees, tuba; Terry Shannon, pno; Jeff Cline, bs; Bill Eyden, dm. 5Hayes, t-sax; Clark Terry, tpt; Edie Costa, vib; Horace Parlan, pno; George Duvivier, bs; Dave Bailey, dm. 6Tubby Hayes Quintet : Hayes, vib; Deucher, tpt; Gordon Beck, pno; Freddy Logan, bs; Allan Ganley, dm. 7Tubby Hayes & the All-Stars: Hayes, t-sax; Rahsaan Roland Kirk, t-sax/ manzello; James Moody, t-sax; Walter Bishop Jr., pno; Sam Jones, bs; Louis Hayes, dm.  / Acrobat ACMCD4374

Ernest “Tubby” Hayes (1935-1973) was one of England’s finest bop tenor saxists, a man who could play with the best musicians, but he wasn’t quite as well known in America as his friend and colleague Ronnie Scott. These sessions were made in several venues: live in New York or at Ronnie Scott’s Club and studio sessions for Decca and Philips, all between 1955 and 1962.

Aside from Scott, I didn’t recognize any of the British musicians’ names on these sessions, but I perked up seeing the inclusion of trumpeter Clark Terry, tenor saxist James Moody and particularly the brilliant Rahsaan Roland Kirk. The presence of pianist Walter Bishop Jr. and drummer Sam Jones on the latter session tells me that this was probably a New York blowing date. The program consists of three Hayes originals, a piece by Clark Terry and a large selection of jazz and pop standards.

Hayes combined the fast, lean, Charlie Parker-influenced lines of Sonny Stitt with the fill-bodied tone of a Coleman Hawkins. His playing was fluid and fluent; he had plenty of drive and a good amount og imagination. Unlike Stitt, who basically did a Bird imitation on tenor, Hayes was more individual in his approach. In the opener, Horace Silver’s Opus de Funk, the British rhythm section of pianist Harry South, bassist Pete Elderfield and drummer Bill Eyden play together as a crisp unit. In the second, South’s Message to the Messengers (perhaps a reference to Art Blakey’s band), the excellent Dickie Howden, who played for a time with Johnny Dankworth’s big band, is added on trumpet. Here, Hayes adds a few bluesy turnarounds at the ends of phrases reminiscent of other ‘50s tenor saxists. Howden plays a nice muted solo here, a bit in the Dizzy Gillespie vein. South also contributes a nice, relaxed, mostly single-note solo, adding chords in his second chorus. Elderfield’s bass solo is somewhat metronomic and functional but fills in well.

Cheek to Cheek features both Hayes and Ronnie Scott, who open the track as a duet. Here, the rhythm section is more explosive than in the first two tracks. Although I’ve heard Scott in the past, I can’t say that I’m so familiar with his style that I could tell him from Hayes, but the blistering solos are superb. The same group also plays Hayes’ original The Serpent, a quasi-samba piece with an attractive melody. My guess is that the first solo, which has more of a Stan Getz-like sound, is probably Scott, while the second, fuller-sounding one is probably Hayes.

Hayes really projects his big sound on Monk’s ‘Round Midnight, to good effect. I was also particularly impressed with Hayes’ original, The Monk, which is about as good an imitation of Thelonious’ writing style as I’ve ever heard. Interestingly, pianist Terry Shannon switches to celesta on this track, and is very good both behind Hayes and in his own solo. The Jazz Couriers return for a superb rewriting of the old Lane-Harburg tune If This Isn’t Love, some of it in 3 and some in 4. Once again, Hayes and Scott play together in thirds and unison. I’m pretty sure that all the tenor choruses before the piano are by Hayes and the half-chorus after is by Scott.

The Hayes quartet returns for a great run-through of Walter Fuller and Luciano Gonzales’ Tin Tin Deo, introduced by the Gillespie band in the late 1940s. Hayes’ solo on this one is particularly outstanding, played mostly in double time and displaying some really outstanding musical ideas, building and building on them as he progresses. Cherokee is played by a 14-piece orchestra which called themselves The Jazz Giants; the rhythm section is peppy enough, although drummer Bill Eyden clearly lacked the power to really propel such a band the way American drummers could. The real propulsion comes from the very energetic trumpet section and Hayes himself, who dominates this track and does almost as fine a job as Clifford Brown on his Paris big band session version of this tune.

Pint of Bitter features Hayes with an American group consisting of Clark Terry, Eddie Costa, Horace Parlan and George Duvivier. It’s a nice, relaxed jam on a Terry original tune. I’ve always been amazed at how Terry could elicit such a peculiarly “chubby” sound from his instrument, but he was consistent at it for 60-odd years. Hayes plays a nice, relaxed double-time solo, and I was particularly delighted to hear the way Duvivier propelled the ensemble as well as the soloists. Parlan contributed a nice, quirky piano solo on this one as well.

On Down in the Village, Hayes switches from tenor sax to vibes, and he’s excellent on that instrument as well. This is a Hayes original, mostly in 4 but with a bridge in 3. Jimmy Deucher, another fine British bop trumpeter, also contributes an excellent solo, and Freddy Logan is a terrific bassist and Allan Ganley is a splendid drummer.

The last track is a real treat, combining Hayes with not one but two great American saxists, James Moody (who I managed to hear in person once) and Rahsaan Roland Kirk (who I missed seeing in person but saw a couple of times on TV). Stitt’s Tune is a blistering-fast romp, not much to it in terms of musical construction but a great vehicle for jamming. All three saxists play well, but unless I’m much mistaken Kirk only gets a half-chorus between Moody’s and Hayes’ much fuller solos.

Tubby Hayes was clearly an outstanding jazz talent, one who American listeners should get to know better. This album makes a great introduction to his work.

—© 2019 Lynn René Bayley

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