Tubby Hayes: “Tubbs” (1961) Fontana


Track Selection: “The Late One” (3:35) >

Christmas special bonus selection from “Tubbs”: “R.T.H.T.”  >


Tubby Hayes (ts) Terry Shannon (p) Jeff Clyne (b) Bill Eyden (d) Recorded 1961

Tubby led the Jazz Couriers with fellow tenor player and jazz legend Ronnie Scott between 1957 and 1959. Apart from leading his own small and big bands he played with many US jazz stars including Roland Kirk, Clark Terry, James Moody and Charles Mingus, and his appearance in the US  gave the UK the benefit of visits from Zoot Sims as a result of the Musicians Union artist exchange rules.

A Tubby Hayes fan of long-standing met the man at gigs, saying of him “used to see him from time to time in a pub opposite Harrods, and he was always charming and enthusiastic” His final curtain call came in 1973 at the age of 38, after several years of intermittent heart surgery.


This man could play the tenor, fast and musical, with boundless energy and enthusiasm, with sidesmen every bit as competent as those across the Atlantic. The music compared well with the New York scene of its time, however British jazz struggled not for any lack of quality, but for lack of a market, pushed off the stage by the huge global success of the rock and pop industry in the shape of The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and decades of seemingly endless commercial talent that came to totally dominate the music industry. Jazz was simply squeezed out, into a small niche of men soon to be losing their hair, faithful to their traditional British Hi Fi, and their own collection of British jazz musicians. And probably their British sports car. All very insular. We’re an island, what d’you expect?

Vinyl: Fontana TFL 5142 mono

Fontana original pressings are generally superb and this is no exception. Lively, spacious, wide dynamic range from firm bass and punchy mid range  through to sizzling cymbals. everything you expect from original early Sixties original vinyl. This one was quite mucky (it’s the Scots, and their pies) but a good clean on the RCM soon had it sparkling, and the odd few clicks remaining are the permanent ones.

Fontana matrix codes – Philips pressing, Philips being the boss of the Fontana label. “420” indicates UK pressing, Philips plant in Chingford/Walthamstow area of outer North East London.


Collectors Notes

British jazz never sold in any quantity at the time, and for commercial survival attached to telegenic female singers like Cleo Lane (Mrs Johnny Dankworth), and recording for film, TV and radio rather than live performance. As a result, Tubby’s vinyl is rare, immensely collectible and fiercely expensive. In the very best condition, £100-200 is normal for the more commonplace records, and £500 for the Tempo’s.

I was a little surprised to win this in a six-bid eBay contest for a little over £40, especially when a slightly better copy of “Tubbs” was available on buy-now at £125.  It is unpredictable what price the market will set on a VG+ and there can be a wide gap between what trophy-hunters will pay for top condition, and the offers from penny-ante bidders and bargain hunters – one of those times when snipe-and-forget pays off.

The record travelled all the way from Scotland to London, where its new home on the shelf awaited, sandwiched between Herbie Hancock and Joe Henderson. Perhaps in the small hours when everyone is asleep and records come out to play among themselves, Tubbs will show off a few of his licks to his American neighbours, enough to make Henderson raise an eyebrow. ” I know you British play cricket, I didn’t know you could play jazz too. Nice.”

Record pictures update May 15, 2016

7 thoughts on “Tubby Hayes: “Tubbs” (1961) Fontana

  1. The hubbub surrounding the recent release of the so-called lost Fontana sessions, has whet my appetite for the music of Tubby Hayes. Thanks for these tracks, which I just stumbled upon. Tubby is excellent on them, but the band leaves something to be desired, doesn’t it? As far as voice goes, I would rank Tubby’s as neither “fat” nor “thin,” but somewhere in the middle and beautiful indeed.

  2. Just got a copy of this record in VG Condition.The recorded sound is superb and in terms of power,control,soul, inventiveness,skill and sheer good taste Tubby Hayes was right up there as a world class jazz musician with all the US talent that was around back then.Brilliant!

  3. two words about fat vs thin voice.
    fat: Hawk, Frog, Jug
    thin: Pres, Warne, Paul Desmond
    I’ll never say the difference is between a fat and a thin woman but in Jazz I love thin and fat.

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