Tubby Hayes: Tubby the Tenor - JazzWax

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March 10, 2011


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Wow, Paul and Tubby make a great team. Another fine combination was Tubby and Ronnie Scott ("The Jazz Courriers"). Tupa sounds like one of Tubby's tunes.

Bill Forbes

Great to see you celebrating Tubby, Marc! I saw him many times in the 1960s and his NY sessions are my favorites of his records. His tradition in British jazz is now being carried on by tenorist Simon Spillett, whose gigs always feature prominently in my diary.

Han Schulte

A fine 4 cd box "Tubby Hayes: The Little Giant" with a 44 page booklet is still available at propermusic.com with tracks recorded in the 50s. Tubby plays here with bands led by Vic Lewis, Jack Parnell, Jimmy Deuchar, Dizzy Reece, Victor Feldman and Ronnie Scott. Tubby also plays here with his own combo's: "Jordu", "Sophisticated Lady", "Opus de Funk", "Message to the Messengers", "Night in Tunesia" and other gems.
Han Schulte


Glad to see Tubby out front on your site, Marc. Tubby kind of flew under the radar for me (much like alto saxophonist, Joe Harriott who lived in the U.K. most of his life, but I believe, was born in Jamaica) until just a few years ago. Tubbs was also in a not-so-wonderful movie in or around 1961 called "All Night Long" with some serious company - Sir John Dankworth, Charles Mingus, Dave Brubeck. Here's a link:


Tubby Hayes also led a wonderful big band and there's even a video or two floating around on youtube of Tubby with his big band from the Jazz 625 program series:



Brett Gold

Glad to see a feature on Tubby Hayes. I have "The New York Sessions," and am glad you highlighted his rendition of "You For Me," which I've played for a number of saxophonist friends over the years in blindfold tests. It's one of the few recorded versions of the tune. The CD, however, does not seem to have been mastered very well and the sound is pretty harsh.

Although the feature was obviously about the albums, you might also have mentioned Tubby's appearance in the movie All Night Long, a British version of Othello with Patrick McGoohan as the Iago character and Betsy Blair as the Desdemona character. Tubby is featured, along with Charlie Mingus, Dave Brubeck and Johnny Dankworth. Well worth seeing, if you haven't heard of it.

Wonderful reading you, as always.

Larry Kart

I see that your Facebook link to this post says that "one of the only tenor saxophonists who could keep up with Al Cohn and Zoot Sims was Tubby Hayes."

If by "keep up with" you mean speed of execution, I don't think that was what Zoot or Al were about. If you had said that Hayes was "one of the only tenor saxophonists who could keep up with Johnny Griffin or Sal Nistico," I'd be with you.

Speaking of Hayes and Nistico, this dual interview with them is interesting and pertinent, because they talk about the downside of being regarded as guys who were expected to play fast and "hot":



Tubby Hayes also a multi instrumentalist and ran a very good big band. Unfortunately he was a user and that's what destroyed his health at a very young age,ever thus with British jazz musicians at that time.


Brian "Tubby" Hayes was a complete musician: soloist, composer and arranger. He was a first class improviser with astonishing technique on the tenor saxophone at any tempo and a soulful ballad interpreter. However, many familiar with his recordings are unaware that he was also an excellent vibraphone player as is witnessed by his work with fellow British tenor man Ronnie Scott on their 1958 recording "The Jazz Couriers" quintet session on Carlton. Another outstanding example of Hayes jazz chops on both instruments can be heard on his Fontana CD "Tubbs" which features his playing with a big band. Tubby's solo on Ray Noble's "Cherokee" is nothing less than brilliant and his technique flawless. Unlike some of today's harmonically sophisticated soloists imprinted with the stamp of John Coltrane Tubby could also swing hard !

Hayes had a musical vocabulary that included more adventurous material like Monk's "Rhythm-A-Ning" from his 1972 CD on Storyville, "Tubby Hayes Quartet In Scandinavia" recorded in Stockholm. His style had evolved since 1961's "Tubby The Tenor" having absorbed Rollins,Coltrane,Mobley,Griffin,Rouse and others while remaining true to himself.
His untimely death was a genuine loss to the jazz community but, his recorded legacy speaks for itself and will for years to come. Your feature hopefully will serve to introduce "Tubbs" to a new generation of listeners.


Also looking forward to the forthcoming Simon Spillett biography on Tubbs.


Last, but not least, a link to the Tubby Hayes Tribute website, with lots of cool info, including info on recent reissues, forthcoming recordings and there's a pretty detailed discography, too.

Thanks again, Marc. Anytime you write about/feature someone I've not listened to in a while, you not only send me back to my collection, but you also turn me into the "researching madwoman of the internet!"

- marla

O'Sullivan, Red

So pleased to see you celebrating Hayes!!!!!!!! People should make sure to know the big band - probably the greatest non-American band in the music's history (because of the level of Hayes' inspiration and the way he made them play).
Also, his next U.S. recording, "Return Visit" is another all-star affair: he's teamed with Roland Kirk, James Moody himself and the marvellous rhythm of Walter Bishop Jnr., Sam Jones & Louis Hayes.
I love the story of him so looking forward to an engagement he had in Shelly's Manne-Hole in LA, and the opportunity to play with an American rhythm-section again: when he turned up for work he discovered the band was Victor Feldman, Malcolm Cecil and Colin Bailey!!!! (All English ex-pats, and all GREAT, btw).
He was also, definitely, one of the greatest flute-players who ever played. EVER. (Great evidence on YouTube, and of the big band).


I forgot to post the link to the tribute site (Tubby Hayes):


Julian McSweeney

Along with Georgie Fame (Clive Powell) and Harry and Harriet South, Tubby and Maggy Hayes were two of my parents' closest friends. Tubby's wife, Maggy was my nanny and taught me some of the old east end songs, like 'Hold Your Hand Out, You Naughty Boy!'. I was only a young child in the mid sixties, brought up on a diet of jazz, The Beatles and Motown. I can remember our families all mixing together, all of us kids looked after by whoever wasn't working shifts at BEA, having my fingers stretched across the piano keys while sitting on Georgie Fame's lap, or bashing Harry's drum kit. My love and appreciation for jazz comes from those early childhood memories. They were amazing people and I'll always remember them for their love and warmth.

Rob J

I brought this cd back in the very early 90s, as a direct result of a discussion with
Freddie Logan who played bass with Tubbs back in the early 1960s. Back then, there were very few of his recording available but
it has always remained a gem of UK jazz.

It's ironic now with the huge amount of his
records currently available that this set is out of print, because it is magnificent
and should be in the home of any jazz fan.

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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