Selection: Laker’s Day
(Baseball and basketball fans may want to skip this section) . Tubby Hayes dedicates his second guest spot, Laker’s Day, to English cricketer Jim Laker – who just that day had taken a record 19 wickets in one day against the Aussies, an event to stir pride in an Englishman’s breast, and murmur in classic British understatement, “Good show“.
From The Ashes Archive:
“It is 31 July 1956. Old Trafford, Manchester. After more than 150 second-innings overs, England have finally sealed victory and the exhausted bowler takes his sweater from the umpire and strides from a pitch now bathed in sunshine. A few team-mates offer hearty handshakes, others a pat on the back in reward for a fine Test’s work.
But this has not been merely a fine Test for Jim Laker. From a distance of 50 years, the formal congratulations seem almost comically muted, for he is walking off the pitch having taken all 10 Australian wickets in the innings and in doing so recorded the finest bowling figures of all time – 19 for 90.”
Ronnie Scott (tenor sax) Tubby Hayes (tenor sax) Harry Klein (baritone sax) Terry Shannon (piano) Lennie Bush (bass) Tony Crombie (drums) recorded at “The Railway Arms”, (next door to Decca recording studios) West Hampstead, London, England, July 31, 1956, at the dials, engineers Bert Steffens and Ken Wilkinson.
From London 1956, British Jazz, at the same time Blue Note was rolling out its first 1500 series 12″ records, the LJC Time Machine whisks you away sixty years to another time and place.
Jazz at the Flamingo, errata: not really at the Flamingo, judged unsuitable for this recording, The first Flamingo Club premises were in the basement of the Mapleton Restaurant, moving to its Wardour Street address the year following this recording. Instead Decca relocated The Flamingo to the pub next door to Decca studios in London’s West Hampstead, wires trailing through windows to reach the mixing desks and tape machines. Sounds a very mutually beneficial arrangement, I dare say a few pints travelled the same way.
Tubby Hayes not yet the star leader, introduced as guest tenor on only two tracks, but playing with characteristic gusto, in the manner one critic coined as “Cockney garrulous“. Hi technical mastery of the tenor, wickedly fast runs replete with summersaults and backflips, is on full display at this early stage. Some months later he went on to form The Jazz Couriers, a pizza-delivery sounding take on The Jazz Messengers, a two-tenor line up with Ronnie Scott, arguably the best British modern jazz group of the 1950s.
Tubby has been lionised in a recent excellent book The Long Shadow of The Little Giant by Simon Spillett – a very fine tenor player himself (book reviewed here). In the best jazz tradition Hayes died too soon, in his prime, age only 38.
Vinyl: Tempo TAP 5
The last letter on the Decca drilled matrix code VGMT #### is conventionally understood to identify the Decca “engineer”, in this case and most Decca Jazz recordings, “B”, Ron Mason, the engineer who created the Master Lacquer and supervised the whole process up to the stampers.
|A = Guy Fletcher, B = Ron Mason, C = Trevor Fletcher
D = Jack Law, E = Stan Goodall, F = Cyril Windebank, G = Ted Burkett
K = Tony Hawkins, L = George Bettyes, W = Harry Fisher
Source: Stones on Decca
Whilst Ron Mason is credited with mastering, what is less well understood is that the recording engineer differed from the mastering engineer on many of these sessions, if not all. Bert Steffens name turns up on several occasions, and is confirmed recording engineer on the credits in the liner notes. He also turns up on some US liner notes, as Bert Stephens.
A tangential digression.
Many years ago, when I was briefly of some passing importance, I was attended a board meeting of a large British company. From the wood-panelled walls, oil paintings of The Founders and distinguished previous Chairmen looked down on the proceedings, eyes fixed in stern oversight. As the Board worked through the weighty agenda, every five to ten minutes, a secretary would enter discretely into the board room and pass the Finance Director a slip of paper. He would catch the eye of the Chief Executive and pass him the note, which was received with silent approval. I imagined it was some vital information of corporate importance. It was only some time later I learned the information on the note was an update on the latest score in the Test Match, gleaned by the secretary from a transistor radio on her desk in the outer office . I mean, it’s not exactly Don Draper and Roger Sterling in Mad Men, is it?
Nevertheless, good show, I say, “Jolly good show“. The Jolly is period British hyperbole, in modern parlance sort of Good Show Plus.
Apologies for the digression. LJC will return to “proper” American Jazz shortly
(Ed: Shouldn’t this be the Test Card? No, ed. Wrong sort of test.)