Tubby Hayes essentially put British jazz players on the map. In his short life and career he actively pursued excellence on his instruments (tenor sax, flute and vibes) and as a composer. Aficionados are finally discovering or re-discovering this icon.
Commonwealth Blues consists of BBC radio transcriptions that were originally intended for broadcast overseas. They contain announcements in Spanish and are programmatic in nature, with sections devoted to Hayes on his three instruments. Though the band is calledin Spanish - El Cuarteto de Tubby Hayesit's actually the Gordon Beck Trio led by Hayes. Four vinyl transcription discs were originally made, each leading off with "Tubby's Blues , with the leader demonstrating his skill with this most basic of forms. Beck on piano, Jeff Clyne on bass and Johnny Butts on drums not only complement Hayes but also demonstrate why the group was so popular on its own, recalling Red Garland's group working with Miles and Coltrane as they wail their way through standards and blues. Among the gorgeous ballad readings here, the little-known classic "I Never Know When to Say When (by Leroy Anderson for a 1962 show of Goldilocks) finds Hayes on flute gorgeously 'reading' the lyrics and plaintively reflecting a sad innocence. Much of the music here was coming to be known in the mid '60s, when songs from shows were still very much before the public. Two here - "A Taste of Honey (from a movie, actually) and "Who Can I Turn To had actually been pop hits. Hayes' interpretations show how a great jazz player can transform even seemingly common material.
Rawer and rougher are the recordings and the playing on Addictive Tendencies. Taken from drummer Tony Levin's own tapes, they present the truly fiery side of a killer quartetwith Levin, Mike Pyne on piano and Ron Mathewson on bass. Wasting no time, the 2-disc set kicks into gear with "Walkin' . Hayes blows and blows and blows but never knocks over the house. The others, particularly Levin, are right there on their feet the whole way and are ready to take over when Hayes finishes his monstrously beautiful solo. No sooner does Hayes make his announcements than the band is off again, this time on a long vamped intro to "Alone Together , making that old ballad sound like Coltrane's "My Favorite Things .
On the second disc the approach is quieter but no less intense. There's a playful Hayes original, "Off The Wagon , and then the humorously named but delicately lyrical "When My Baby Gets Mad Watch Out , which has a poignant piano introduction by Mike Pyne whose playing throughout the tune is intelligent and rich. Evan Parker has said that this is the best Tubby Hayes he's ever heard and others who knew his performances agree that these recordings are inspirational and very real.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Tubby's Blues; The Song Is You; The More I See You; Speak Low; Tubby's Blues; Tubby's Blues; Bluesology; Detour Ahead; Who Can I Turn To?; Tubby's Blues; Tubby's Blues; Alone Together; I Never Know When To Say When; A Taste Of Honey; Tubby's Blues; Tubby's Blues; Bye Bye Blackbird; Time After Time; In the Night; Tubby's Blues.
Personnel: Tubby Hayes: tenor saxophone, flute, vibes; Gordon Beck: piano; Johnny Butts: drums; Jeff Clyne: acoustic bass.
Tracks: CD1: Walkin'; "a little workout"; "I have a new quartet"; Alone Together; Announcement
CD2: Announcement; Off the wagon; Announcement; When my baby gets mad watch out; What is this thing called love?.
Personnel: Tubby Hayes: tenor sax; Mike Pyne: piano; Ron Matthewson: bass; Tony Levin: drums.