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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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The little Giant





This is a box of 4 CDs devoted to the early work of Tubby Hayes, both with his own band and the bands that he worked for. These recordings cover the period 1954 to 1956, at that time Tubby was just 19 to 23 years of age. He developed into a musician who many believe, was the greatest jazz saxophone player that the UK has produced to date.

Record 1 - Too Marvellous for Words

  1. Walkin’ Shoes

  2. Sextet

  3. Line for Lyons

  4. Nights at the Turntable

  5. Bweebida Bobbida

  6. Limelight

  7. Bark for Barksdale

  8. Westwood Walk

Recorded with the Vic Lewis Orchestra in 1954.

Vic Lewis always had a band of young musicians, many of whom were playing on their first engagement with a major Big Band, his was the nursery band that fed the bands of Ted Heath, Jack Parnell and Johnny Dankworth. Vic’s band has stood the test of time well and all of these tracks featuring the compositions of Gerry Mulligan, have clean ensembles and excellent soloists

9. Too Marvellous for Words.

This track features Tubby with a backing group of Don Riddell - piano, Dave Willis - bass, Kenny Hollick - drums. i.e. The Vic Lewis rhythm section.

10. The Creep
11. Walkin Shoes
12. Bweebida Bobbida
13. Bark for Barksdale
14. Peanut Vendor
15. Bill’s Blues
16. Sextet
17. Limelight
18. Intermission Riff

This second set of recordings by the Lewis band was made a week after the first one in January 1954.

Tubby solos on all these tracks, his tone here is light, nothing like the full sound, he made later in his career, but the phenomenal technique, confidence and timing is already present. It is worth noting that all these performances from the Vic Lewis Band all sound good today!

The next track was recorded with the Jack Parnell Band in June of 1954.

19. Sure Thing
20. Trip to Mars

The last 4 tracks on this disk feature Tubby’s own band.

21. Jordu
22. Orient Line
23. May Ray
24. Monsoon.

These recordings are with, Jimmy Deuchar, Dickie Hawdon - Trumpet. Jackie Sharpe, Mike Senn - Saxes. Harry South - Piano, Pete Blannin - Bass, Lennie Breslow - Drums.

‘Sure Thing’ with the Parnell Band is a typical Count Basie arrangement, as is ‘Trip to Mars’, both have interesting, if brief solos from Tubby, playing with another fine British Band that of Jack Parnell.

The last four tracks are of Tubby’s first foray into band leading, the solos are longer and the band, more of a pure jazz outfit than those heard previously. Tubby is by this time sounding more like the real deal as he weaves his way through an interesting four numbers.

Record 2 Peace Pipe

The first two tracks on this disc, were recorded under the name of the Jimmy Deuchar Ensemble in April of 1955. The titles are

  1. Treble Gold

  2. Basshouse

  3. I.P.A. Special

  4. Final Selection.

The compositions and arrangements are all the work of Jimmy Deuchar, who as well as being a fine jazz trumpet player, was also an excellent composer/arranger. The session was blessed with the talents of Victor Feldman on piano, who before long was playing in the big league in the USA. There are also fine solos from Derek Humble, alto/baritone and valve trombone from Ken Wray.

Three days later Tubby was back in the studio with his Octet to record

5. I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart
6. Sophisticated Lady
7. Deuces Wild

This time the band included Dickie Hawden, Mike Senn and Jackie Sharp. The first two titles are Duke Ellington compositions and the third another Deuchar special.

By this time Tubby was able to hold his own in any company and the fact that many of these tracks were released in the USA, demonstrates their quality.

In July of 1955 the band recorded two more tracks

8. Fidelius
9. Tootsie Roll

By this time Bill Eyden who was a long time member of Tubby’s various bands had joined the rhythm section, he gave the band even more urgency.

The next two tracks find our leader in the company of Jamaican trumpet player Dizzy Reece and using Tubby’s rhythm section, the titles were released under the name of The Dizzy Reece Quartet!

10. Now’s the Time
11. Please Call

Just over two weeks later Tubby was back in the recording studio again, this time with a Quartet consisting of Harry South - piano, Pete Blannin - bass, Bill Eyden - drums.

12. Dance of the Aerophragytes
13. There’s No One but You
14. Imagination
15. Peace Pipe
16. Evil Eyes
17. There Will Never be Another You
18. Opus De Funk
19. Straight Life

On my copy the recording quality is poor in this latter session, with lots of hiss and pops.

During this period Tubby’s style of playing was evolving at an astounding pace, still strongly influenced by Zoot Sims and Stan Getz, his tone, though heavier than on the earlier disk, signalled his movement towards ‘hard bop’ was underway.

Record Three Room 608

Record 3 stats with the Victor Feldman Big Big Band recorded shortly before Feldman’s departure to the USA in late 1955. This recording brought together the talents of Ronnie Scott and Tubby Hayes for the first time, they were to see much of one another in the future. The titles are

  1. Big Top

  2. Introduction

  3. Cabaletto

  4. Maeyna

The trumpet section with Jimmy Watson, Jimmy Deuchar and Dizzy Reece, is outstanding and with Phil Seaman to drive it along, this was some band. At that time Tubby played second tenor to Ronnie Scott, someone who would be very important in his future.

The next tracks were recorded for a BBC broadcast in January 1956, Stuart Hamer had joined Tubby Hayes and his Orchestra, as it was then called on lead trumpet. The titles demonstrate that in order to survive, the band had in those days to have a commercial side!

5. He’s a Tramp
6. Sophisticated Lady
7. The Yellow Rose of Texas
8. Almost Like Being in Love
9. Ain’t it the Truth

The same band recorded the following tracks at the Royal Festival Hall in February of the same year.

10. The little Giant/Orient Line
11. Plymouth Rock
12. Room 608
13. Doggin’ Around
14. Sophisticated Lady
15. Mambo Tittoro
16. I’ll Remember April

Vocalist Bobby Breen who later sang with the Johnny Dankworth band was also on the above session.

I can remember bringing this record home on an LP when it was issued by Tempo records and it stayed on or near my turntable for years! I just loved the enthusiasm of the band and for me Tubby could do no wrong! If you want to check out how good Tubby was at that stage, try playing Room 608 at that speed!

The next two tracks featured the Tubby Hayes Quintet with Tubby and Dickie Hawdon on tenor & trumpet respectively, we have already heard them on ’Room 608’ and they play well together. Both players show a much more tender side than the music from the previous concert.

I disagree with the writer of the sleeve notes Simon Spillett, on one point, I thought Dickie Hawden was an ideal foil for Tubby. The sleeve notes are however most informative throughout, would that all would be so good.

17. Ode to Ernie
18. Foolin’ Myself
19. No I Woodyn’t

By this time Tubby had developed into a high class musician and was ready to compete with anyone in the jazz world, but there was much more to come!


Record Four Message to the Messengers

Disk four starts as disk three with Tubby’s Quintet, where his front line partner is as before Dickie Hawdon on trumpet.

The three tracks with this combination are

  1. Message to the Messengers

  2. Hall Hears the Blues

  3. Nicole

These tracks were recorded in July 1956

The next to tracks come from a recording made at the Railway Arms, West Hampstead. The pub is purporting to be the Flamingo Club in London, for the benefit of this recording. The JATF line up included Ronnie Scott , Harry Klein, Terry Shannon, Lennie Bush and Tony Crombie. Tubby was the guest star! The band however sounds a bit under rehearsed!

4. Night in Tunisia
5. Laker’s Day

From a December 1956 recording, the next two tracks feature the Victor Feldman Ninetet.

6. Short Circuit
7. Wood

The final selection is from a recording of the Victor Feldman Big Band made a day later than the Ninetet tracks

8. Blues in Two Modes
9. Karen

At the time these recordings took place Tubby was still only 23 and this amazing musician continued to develop at the same rapid pace up to his untimely death at 38, some 12 years later. During that period he developed into a superb composer and arranger, became a top class vibraphone player and became a first class flautist..

I thoroughly enjoyed hearing these records again, Tubby developed into a musician of world class stature, he had an annual gig at the Village Vanguard in NYC, the top jazz accolade any musician can be awarded, particularly a non US person!

I recommend this PROPERBOX to anyone who remembers Tubby, probably the finest jazz saxophone player the UK has produced. It is an excellent package of Tubby’s early work. It also contains many interesting photographs.

Don Mather


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