- Autumn Leaves
- A Foggy Day
- Guys and Dolls
- Royal ascot
- If This Isn’t Love
Martin Drew – Drums
Nigel Hitchcock – Tenor
Mornington Lockett – Tenor
Steve Melling – Piano
Andrew Cleyndert – Bass
For those who don’t know about them, the original Jazz
Couriers were a band fronted by Ronnie Scott and Tubby Hayes, which
did it’s first gig at The Flamingo Club in London on April 7th.
1957. It was probably the finest Jazz Quintet around at the time and
they did gigs all over the UK, some of them on a tour with the Dave
Brubeck Quartet. I heard both bands at the Coventry Theatre and what
a night that was, it is sad to think that neither Ronnie nor Tubby or
Paul Desmond are with us, for that matter neither is the Coventry Theatre.
The Couriers were enormously popular, even though the band was only
together for two years; everyone who was around at the time fondly remembers
them. Fortunately they recorded a lot of the arrangements that Tubby
wrote for the band and so at least something was preserved for posterity!
The Couriers played their final gig in Cork, Ireland in August of 1959.
The idea of the New Jazz Couriers came out of a post
gig conversation between Mornington Lockett and Martin Drew. Unfortunately,
no-one new of the whereabouts of Tubby’s arrangements for the band and
Mornington agreed to carry out the monumental task of copying the arrangements
from the records. He has made a great job of it and they are instantly
The first appearance of the New Jazz Couriers was at
the Coventry Jazz Festival of August 2000 at the Leofric Hotel. I was
fortunate enough to be there and as soon as I heard the new band, I
knew the Couriers were alive! Martin Drew led the band and the new front
line of Mornington Lockett and Nigel Hitchcock, was driven along by
the superb rhythm section of Martin, Steve Melling and Andrew Cleyndert.
To have to play in a band with Tubby Hayes, who to
my mind was the best jazz musician this country has produced, must have
been an enormous challenge for Ronnie Scott. Tubby was always likely
to blow anybody away at any time! In the New Couriers things are more
evenly matched, I rate both Mornington and Nigel Hitchcock very highly
indeed, they are both excellent and different enough in style that you
can tell who plays each solo. Martin Drew is worthy of special mention,
to hold down the drum chair in the Oscar Peterson Trio you have to be
enormously talented. I have heard him play in all sorts of company,
including many visiting Americans, each has been highly complimentary
of his playing.
Whilst the arrangements are the ones that Tubby wrote
and Mornington copied, after the written parts, it is pure New Jazz
Couriers and the whole band have the opportunity to express themselves.
The tunes are well known apart from Royal Ascot which is a Tubby Hayes
original with a strong melody line.
Do not mistake this as being a throwback band. Tubby
was many years ahead of his time, which is proved by how fresh his arrangements
and compositions sound today.
The New Jazz Couriers are entirely worthy of the name.