Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Tubby Hayes - "England's Late Jazz Great"

© -  Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

"I'm basically an evangelist," Vic Hall told The Tampa Tribune in 1993.
"I'm trying to spread the word about jazz, but it's in a gentle way."

Hall was host of the National Public Radio station's "Sound of Jazz,"
an eclectic show that first aired in 1968. Each week, Hall queued up
the big bands, giants of bebop and West Coast school, always tapping
into his enormous collection of 78s, LPs, open reel tapes and CDs. His
final show aired in 2005.

"And he was a volunteer the entire time," said Bob Seymour, jazz
director at the station, who lived next door to Hall in Seminole
Heights. "Vic always used to say that jazz was the one abiding passion
through his life, and he shared that love with such a commitment and
for so long."

The title of this piece comes from a compilation of Tubby’s recordings by the International Association of Jazz Record Collectors [IAJRC] which was issued as a CD in 2005 [IAJRC CD-1019] along with insert notes written by Vic Hall.

Sadly, both the IAJRC and Vic Hall are no longer with us.

Like Tubby, Vic was an Englishman. Both Tubby and Vic visited the USA from time-to-time, but unlike Tubby who died in London in 1973, Vic took up permanent residence in south Florida in 1968 and was for many years the co-host with Susan Giles Wantuck of “The Sound of Jazz,” an NPR radio program which aired on WUSF, 89.7 FM. Born in England in 1925, Hall bought his first jazz record when he was 13 [1938; the year that Tubby Hayes was born.]

Vic passed away on November 20, 2006 and one of his last achievements was in helping the IAJRC produce - Tubby Hayes: "England's Late Jazz Great" [IAJRC CD-1019] - which was to serve as his loving tribute to Tubby whom Vic considered to be “England’s greatest Jazz musician.”

There are 42 recordings by Tubby Hayes in my collection and I would venture to say that more than half of these arrived over the years as gifts from Vic with little Post-It-Notes attached to their jewel cases on which Vic had scribbled - “You gotta check this out,” or “Boy, are you in for a treat,” or “I think this one will blow you away.”

In an ongoing conversation with Vic, I always maintained that vibraphonist/pianist Victor Feldman was the best Jazz musician England ever produced and away the argument would go.

I think that Vic Hall and I were old enough to know better about labeling or ranking musicians, but it was fun to argue the point mainly because Vic was so passionate about it.

Before Victor Feldman emigrated to the USA in the fall of 1956, he worked and recorded often with Tubby and they continued playing together when Victor returned to London or Tubby came to The States to play at Shelly’s Manne Hole in Hollywood in the 1960s.

Victor Feldman and Tubby Hayes had the highest regard for one another’s abilities and I always thought the world of Vic Hall as a patient mentor and a generous friend.

I wanted to remember Vic on these pages with the following excerpts from his insert notes to Tubby Hayes: "England's Late Jazz Great" [IAJRC CD-1019] after which you’ll find a video tribute to Tubby featuring none other than Victor Feldman on piano.

“The man whose music is contained on this compact disc may, arguably, be the best, all around jazz talent that Britain ever produced, Had his lifestyle been as pure as his musical convictions, he might still be with us today, instead dead at age 38, in 1973, another victim of the tragically misguided belief that drugs enhance the creative process, During his all too brief lifetime, however, Edward Brian "Tubby" Hayes produced some of the most brilliant and exciting jazz music ever spawned by the British modern jazz scene,

Tubbs, as he was also called, was, undeniably, a virtuoso on the tenor, saxophone, and more than merely competent on flute and vibes, These instrumental talents, together with his composing and arranging skills portray the complete modern jazz artist, a man who was able to create and perform memorable music within the framework of both the small group and big, with equal facility.

Born in London, England on January 30, 1935, Tubby started out on violin at the age of 8, switching to tenor sax four years later. At the age of 15 he became a professional musician, ultimately playing with the bands of Kenny Baker, Vic Lewis, Ambrose and Jack Parnell,

The first recording sessions under his own name were produced in 1955 and 1956 for Tony Hall's Tempo label, in octet, quintet and quartet formats, Most of these rarities have now been compiled by noted British jazz writer Brian Davis, then released on compact disc on the British Jasmine label. Also some of the Fontana sessions were re-released on LP on the Mole jazz label. The year 1957 saw the formation of the Jazz Couriers which was co-led by Tubby and Ronnie Scott, two men who shared the same musical concept, and who developed a remarkable musical affinity during the period the group was in existence. The group, a quintet consisting of two tenors plus rhythm, toured and recorded for a little over two years, finally disbanding in August 1959,

For the next couple of years, Tubbs led his own quartet with Terry Shannon on piano, Jeff Clyne bass and Phil Seamen drums, later to be replaced with Bill Eydon. In 1961, Tubby was selected to be temporarily traded for Zoot Sims In an unusual transAtlantic exchange, an arrangement that created a breakthrough against the British musicians union's staunch resistance to the booking of American jazz musicians to work in England. American jazz fans and musicians alike were simply knocked out by" the playing of this chubby 26-year-old, who tore around on the tenor like Charlie Parker did on alto, Understandable when you consider that. Tubbs cited Bird as his primary influence, Hayes made three return visits to the U,S, during the early sixties, recording with the likes of James Moody, Roland Kirk, Clark Terry and Eddie Costa, among others. These sessions were released on the Epic and Smash labels in the U.S. and one of them on Montana m England, Some of the
material was re-released on CBS and Columbia,

During this period several other important musician influences came into Tubby’s life. Victor Feldman, who ultimately emigrated to the States, encouraged him to take up the vibes and to study theory, harmony and composition. Jimmy Deuchar, a highly underrated Scottish trumpet player, who rivaled Hayes in technique and intensity of expression, was, according to Tubby, a profound stimulus on Hayes' playing during the period in which he was the other horn in a quintet that was together for about two and a half years and which disbanded in 1964.  Hayes credited Deuchar and Harry South, who played piano in Tubby's early quartet, and was an accomplished composer and arranger, for the guidance and help they gave him in his studies of jazz composition and orchestration,

In 1961, Tubby decided that the time had come to test his burgeoning skills as a jazz writer/composer so he formed his big band, his stature in English jas circles enabling him to bring together the very best musicians available, During the period 1961 through 1966 big bands under Hayes' leadership recorded several sessions for the Fontana label, featuring a number of Hubby's original compositions and arrangements.

In addition to recording sessions and live appearances, Hayes was also featured in a number of radio broadcasts and television programs, as leader of both small groups and big bands, and as a sideman with other leaders.

No attempt has been made to comment on the music contained herein, as it speaks far more eloquently for itse!f. Tubby is heard on tenor saxophone flute and vibes on the various tracks, anti thanks to Jack Towers' wizardry, some recordings of highly questionable quality have been made listenable. Further re-mastering by Gary Baldassari has created the optimum sound on this compact disc.

Recording dates, personnel and composer/arranger credits for the original recordings have been annotated where known, Educated guesses have been ventured for the undocumented material,

If these recordings represent your first encounter with the playing of this British musician, you may be struck with the similarity in style and phrasing between that of Tubby Hayes and American tenor man johnny Griffin. They shared other similarities, as both were short in physical stature, and both were referred to as "The Little Giant", Griffin was known as the fastest horn in the East and this appellation could well have been applied to Hayes also, it would have been a High Noon shoot-out had these two diminutive giants faced off across a stage, horns a-blazin’. Unfortunately we will never know what the outcome of such a confrontation would have been, even though johnny Griffin is still alive, and playing as well as ever, we only have recordings such as are preserved on this disc, to remind us of the remarkable creative force in British jazz, that was Edward Brian “Tubby” Hayes.”

Vic Hall
The Sound of Jazz
WUSF 89.7 FM
Tampa, FL

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