Tubby Hayes: The Couriers of Jazz (1958)

couriersofjazz-cover-1600-LJC-1Track Selection: Mirage


Tubby Hayes,  Ronnie Scott (ts) Terry Shannon (p) Jeff Clyne (b) Bill Eyden (d) recorded November 1958


Billed as “England’s Greatest Combo”. You mean those limeys have learned to play the saxophone? Jazz?

England’s Greatest” – Greatest out of how many? How great is that? asks a New York dominated jazz scene.

This “Tubby” Hayes.  Tubby eh?  We have more amply-proportioned players than that. Ever heard of “Cannonball” Adderley? We already got fat musicians

So, they are “Couriers of Jazz“, like pizza, they deliver jazz direct to your doorstep? Never work. 

The Musicians Union traded Tubby with Zoot Sims, so I have a live Zoot recording at Ronnie Scott’s London club, of all ironies (subject for a future post)

This is no “Union Jack flag-waving” exercise. Probably 97% of my music collection comes from other countries. Statistically, that is about right for a proportionate sample of the world’s recorded music, though China is probably under-represented. For now. Tubby is on my shelves because he deserves to be (though I admit  the shelf is bowing a bit under the weight)


Carlton LP12 116 US release, of London LTZ-L 15188 (looking remarkably similar but in black and white).

The first Jazz Couriers record to have its own release in the US.

Carlton was a New York record label founded in 1957 by former RCA A&R chief Joe Carlton, however better known for its releases of releases of Country & Western Kenny Rodgers, various heart-throb young crooners, and rockabilly songs like “Shake Baby Shake”. The Jazz  Couriers record looks uncomfortably out-of-place in their roster of fifties lesser American pop artists, and can’t have done much to establish The Jazz Couriers credibility in American Jazz circles. Brit-Bop?

Amazon’s single customer review for this CD adds the comment it is “well recorded”. Absolutely. Deep Groove, good weighty vinyl as befits 1958, loud and bright with full dynamic range. A lovely vinyl pressing in pleasing condition, which itself is rare.

Liner notes: in LJC Supa-Sharp Text™


Collectors Corner

Both UK and US vinyl are considered rare. Ouch, it was expensive! But then all Brian Edward “Tubby” Hayes originals are, this one especially as it is not actually a British pressing, but an  (gasp of horror) American pressing. After buying lots of US Prestige releases on British Esquire, it is full circle to be buying a US release of a British artist.

I had seen this sitting in a London shop for some time  but I found the price off-putting and the label relatively unknown to me at least, which it perhaps was why it was still sitting there. “Carlton” sounded like one of those cheap British budget label that always give themselves away with faux-posh West-End names, like Mayfair, Dorchester, Ritz, Carlton, Embassy, always the same posh schtick. However Tubby’s biographer Simon Spillett recommended it to me as part of a Tubbster Core Collection, and this man knows. So out with the plastic, and consoled myself with the thought it was a lot cheaper than the copy of “Down in the Village” currently asking £300 in another London shop.

What a relief when on the turntable it yielded up a heavenly solid rich sound, and mono. “Well recorded” as the man said. Well pressed too,  and great music. Tubbs and Scott dual tenor quintet, its great fun playing “Spot the Tubster” – Hayes more aggressive rollercoaster attack compared with Ronnie Scott’s excellent if slightly more restrained possibly even more mature voice. Good choice, Simon, no, great choice.


UK copy just fetched £326.

£326 ? – completely off the radar.There is something about collectors of British Jazz. However, they seem to think it’s worth it, and who is to say otherwise?

7 thoughts on “Tubby Hayes: The Couriers of Jazz (1958)

  1. Well, I just found Tubby via your website and must say, I am so glad I did! I just purchased this record, original US Carlton, for $25! And in Excellent condition. Here is a new fan of TH. Simply great music.

  2. there is another Carlton record which I consider to be important: Free Blown Jazz, Tony Scott with Jimmy Knepper. Tony on barytone is a fantastic match for the rough sounding trombone of Knepper. Bill Evans on the piano chair. Henry Grimes and Paul Motian complete the group. Clark Terry popping in occasionnally. Ref: Carlton 12/113.
    – Carlton “handcrafted” to bring you “unlimited” high fidelity sound – Well, the sound is good, anno 1958/59, when the sound was still natural, without the diabolical remixing.

  3. Tubbs only discovered recently.Three classic albums cd and especially Down in the village-such energy,excitement and inventiveness.Get them now!

  4. Glad you like it! It’s by far the best studio recording by the JC’s and I think the best record of the band.
    A couple of bits of trivia. “Co-producer” Mannie Greenfield was actually an American lawyer friend of Tony Hall’s who helped sort out the finances with Carlton Records and was instantly elevated to sleeve credit status. And, amazingly the album was recorded at Decca’s West Hampstead studio by the same team that usually did the Tempo LP’s, in this instance Michael Mailes at the controls. I say amazingly because listening to the clear, bright and well modulated sound of this album back to back with The Last Word, recorded by Mailes for Tempo the following year the contrast is shocking, with the latter sounding like the rhythm section were somewhere down the corridor. I’ve never been able to figure that one out. One final thing; the band had to change the name to The Couriers of Jazz because there was already an American band called the Jazz Couriers, featuring vibraphonist Dave Pike.

    • Fascinating, Simon.(So “Couriers of Jazz” wasn’t a reference to their day job as motorcycle messengers!) I didn’t know where it was recorded and didn’t want to guess. Decca Studios, West Hampstead. Figures. It is the best sounding Tubs on Vinyl I have, so much appreciate the recommendation. Now how to get that “Down in the Village” on the wall in North London at £300. This one might have to join the CD shopping list.

      • This posthumous fascination with Tubby’s recorded output never ceases to amaze me. His Tempo and Fontana LP’s sold very modestly indeed and his royalties from the latter – even for well-regarded sets like 100% Proof and Tubbs in New York – were meagre. Quick plug; my article in the March issue of Record Collector talks more about this, as well as focusing on Tubby’s appearances as a “sideman” – guaranteed to bump up the price of a bit of vinyl!

        • Nice timing, Simon. March Record Collector.
          Normally I avoid Record Collector like the plague – the last copy I bought had a sixteen page feature on The Who’s Live at Leeds, or was it Live in Llandudno, I forget. It made my interest in the minutia of Blue Note look positively normal. Glad to hear Tubbs in New York is well regarded as I have just bought a upgrade copy original on Fontana – cheap due to a cover defect. I was not impressed with the Wing budget reissue. Fontana are invariably great pressings, and if the recording is good, that’s doubles all round.
          Dont tell me Tubbs will go even higher – he is pretty unaffordable right now. There quite a few Brit-Jazz fans still arouund with very thick wallets.His not selling much at the time is half the reason for todays prices.

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