This album gives us a true picture of Hayes at this point in his career.

 Jazz In Britain JIB 53-M-CD

Tubby Hayes (tenor saxophone); Tommy Whittle (tenor saxophone); Kenny Powell (piano); Ron Mathewson (bass); Dick Brennan (drums)

Recorded live at The Hopbine, North Wembley, London in March 1965 by Ted Lyon

We are in Hayes territory, a 1960’s jazz pub.  The Hopbine in Wembley in 1965 was used by tenor saxophonist Tommy Whittle as a venue for a club and it was a popular stopping point on the jazz circuit.  Whittle made sure that the place was congenial.  For Hayes, the venue makes little difference, he always gave a performance. The beginning here is with ‘Night and Day’. the first few notes, a demand, a call to attention. ‘Listen! This is special. Listen!’

‘Night and Day’ is pure Hayes full of the exuberance and the joy of playing, with notes tumbling out, halter skelter, like gold coins spilling out of a one-armed bandit. The thread is never lost, always there.  There is a discipline in the way that the theme is embellished so that even a new listener would be able to appreciate what is added.

‘No Blues’ the first track on the second disc is trademark Hayes.  He does not really allow the rhythm section to be much of an obstacle to what he wants to achieve. On over forty choruses of impassioned improvisation and creatively, the Miles Davis’ composition is just one highlight of a remarkable evening.

The real highlight is ‘It Never Entered My Mind’ a beautiful ballad made even more memorable by Hayes.  The sheer beauty of Hayes’ playing, fills the room, penetrating the smoke. revealing deeper feelings through the timing, the timbre, the breath.  The subtle changes of pace, the varied rhythm, the invention, the extensions of ideas underlie the romanticism at the core of the interpretation.  Too much heart on sleeve’ was taboo in 1965.  The audience wanted the torrent of notes in the faster pieces but they were just able to tolerate moments of reflection so that glasses could be filled, cigarettes stubbed out or lit..   Hayes does not allow the pianist to solo, does not want to disrupt the mood he has constructed.  Hayes is admitting, to those who will listen, a tenderness of soul that some will find uncomfortable. Most in the audience will be happier to return to the garrulous music where they can be swept away by the welter of notes.  Others will have noticed, in an everyday evening, moments of spellbinding invention.

‘On Green Dolphin Street’ has both Whittle and Hayes. The task for the listener is separating the contributions. After a few bars that task is abandoned to just enjoying both men as they challenge, complement and attempt to overwhelm each other. The expertise, the experience the sheer musical skill behind the two players is impressive. Whittle is softer, more Lester Young than Hayes, but he sometimes becomes harsher in his efforts to hold Hayes at bay.

This is not the first time that this music has circulated with notes by Simon Spillett.  Spillett spends a great deal of his album notes, explaining in detail how the original issue on the Harkit label came about.  Ted Lyon was responsible for the recording, apparently, he recorded most performances at the Hopbine.  There was a rumour that the archive that Lyon built was destroyed at some point.  His recording skills were good and his generosity was exemplary because he sent a copy of the tape to Ron Mathewson after the gig and that is where the music on the CDs emanates from. This audio is much better than the Harkit issue and the remastering has cleaned the music without losing detail.  The inclusion here of the extra ‘Have You Met Miss Jones?’ track is welcome because it is another Whittle and Hayes joust.

Hayes is sometimes compared to John Coltrane.  Simon Spillett has written that: ‘one hears the inspiration of Coltrane and not the imitation of him’.  Coltrane was, in 1965, a forbidding, almost religious figure.  No mystique was ever wrapped around Hayes and yet Coltrane probably could not equal the humanity of the ballad playing we hear on this album.

Numerous Tubby Hayes’ gigs have circulated in recent years and they all show Tubby’s joy in playing, his consistency and his ability to deal with uninspiring venues, lethargic audiences, poor acoustics, out of tune pianos, greedy promoters and carping critics.  This album gives us a true picture of Hayes at this point in his career.