This newly unearthed archival recording took place on February 8th 1972 at The Hopbine, a public house and popular jazz venue in Wembley, on the northern outskirts of London and as with all Tubby Hayes' music, is of great historic importance. The gig happened just a few months after Hayes' comeback following heart valve surgery in the previous year. The title track, a tune Hayes had recorded 13 years previously for a Blue Note "audition" session, provides a roaring start to the proceedings and clearly demonstrates that Hayes' cardiac issues had not dented his musical abilities one iota, as a cascade of notes tumble effortlessly from Hayes' tenor sax.
A short but elegant piano solo from Tony Lee introduces the timeless standard "Autumn Leaves" on which Tubby Hayes plays flute with all the characteristic aplomb that he delivered on his 1964 album Tubbs' Tours, and even inserts a few bars of "wild" flute towards the end of his solo, closing the 14 minute track with a scintillating coda.
Tony Lee is showcased on "A Certain Smile" which is a trio-only number. Until his death in 2004 Lee was a mainstay of British jazz and led his successful trio for many years. Although perhaps not as fêted as some of his other contemporaries on the British jazz scene, he was nevertheless a player of undisputed ability and highly regarded by his peers and audiences alike. This track is a good example of his fluent talent.
The ballad "I Thought About You" gives Hayes the opportunity to disprove the myth that his performances were all about notes per second, although that was undoubtedly one of the signal characteristics of this extraordinary musician. His tenor sax playing was also able to evince delicateness and sensitivity when required.
The closing number is Sonny Rollins' "Sonnymoon For Two" which Hayes originally recorded on his 1966 big band album for Fontana, 100% Proof and is played here with typical dynamism all round, up to and including the last of the customary fours and a crackling drum solo from Dick Brennan.
The only slight problem with this CD is that due to the position of the single microphone, the amount of extraneous noise picked-up, such as audience conversation, does tend to compromise the overall quality of the recording. This is especially noticeable when the piano is soloing, presumably due to its relative distance from the microphone. However, that caveat aside, this recording is a further glowing testament to the genius of "The Little Giant" and another essential purchase for all Tubbs' fans.
Symphony; Autumn Leaves; A Certain Smile; I Thought About You; Sonnymoon For Two
Tubby Hayes: tenor sax,flute; Tony Lee: piano; Tony Archer: bass; Dick Brennan: drums
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