Tubby Hayes: Grits, Beans And Greens: The Lost Fontana Studio Session 1969 (2019) Universal

Selection: Rumpus (Hayes)

.  .  .

Artists:

Tubby Hayes, tenor sax; Mike Pyne, piano; Ron Mathewson, bass; Spike Wells, drums. Recorded at Philips Studios, Stanhope Place, London, Tuesday June 24th, 1969, 10.30am – 1.30pm – producer: Terry Brown; engineer: David Voyde.

Music

These Tubby Hayes Quartet “Lost Tapes” were first discovered by the late jazz writer and Polygram catalogue manager, Richard Cook, author of the definitive biography of Blue Note Records (Pimlico edition 2003) and co-author of the 1,600 page Penguin Guide To Jazz Recordings (penguin not included). He noticed that Hayes’s diary entries for a date in 1969 referenced a recording session not previously known of. The reference sent Cook scouring the Polygram archives, where he found the 1969 tape reels in boxes. Soon after, Cook left Polygram and the story would have ended there but for Universal recently taking an interest in the British jazz legacy in their massive catalogue.

The Lost Tapes issue was forerunner to the launch of a complete reissue box-set of eleven Tubby Hayes 1960s Fontana LPs, scheduled for release in time for this Christmas, on December 6, 2019.

John Fordham’s review (I only steal from the best) for The Guardian “newspaper” sums up The Lost Tapes thus:

 

“(The Lost Tapes) capture Hayes astonishing fluency as a tenor-sax improviser, and canny craftsmanship as a composer. Rugged modal themes unfold over hurtling bass-walks from the excellent Ron Mathewson, that suggest Coltrane’s Impressions or Giant Steps but with chirpy Latin-ballroom countermelodies. There are fast blues, and smoky ballads

 

But Hayes’ melodic ingenuity, in the twisting tenor improvisations and skid-turn tempo-shifts of Where Am I Going? the taut theme and spiralling embroideries of the title track, and the beautiful unaccompanied coda of the ballad You Know I Care, show how imaginatively he could transform the familiar.”

Yeah. I agree with that, all of it. These lost tapes are not out-takes, or bootlegs, but full proper studio recordings with Tubby fully in command of his powers. Recording engineer David Voyde has a good track record of jazz recordings, including Graham Collier titles and other Tubby Hayes sessions. John Fordham references the CD edition, which comes edited down to the essential takes, or as a double CD with all the alternative takes. Fine as long as you are content to hear it less than at its best. However, if you want Tubby Hayes Quartet in the room with you, it has to be the vinyl. This is a spectacularly vivid and natural-sounding  transfer that earns its place on my shelf, in good company with my Tubby originals.

Insert

No expense has been spared to produce a glossy insert looking authentically yellowed with age, with in-depth insight and historical precision crafted by Simon Spillett, Tubby Hayes’ biographer (“The Long Shadow Of The Little Giant“) and arguably Britain’s most formidable tenor player (according to his mum). No, seriously, that’s my opinion too. Tubby’s mutton-chop sideburns, not so much, but the ’60s were a time when a pop artists most important asset was their haircut. Some well known artists also recording at Philips Studios, Stanhope Place, London, around the same time.

But back to Tubby:

Vinyl: SFJL 1969 (a fictitious Fontana catalogue number invented by someone with a sly sense of humour, correct catalogue letters and the year of the recording, 1969, clever)

Mastered from the original tapes preserved by Universal, by Caspar Sutton-Jones at Gearbox Records, London, using an all-analogue process, including a vintage Scully lathe, beloved of Van Gelder. For the engineering buffs, more detail and credits on the last page of the insert above.

Having poked around the Internet for other reviews of this release, there seems almost a complete absence of comment as to the qualities  of The Lost Tapes in its vinyl format. Maybe the reviewers have no insight into the difference between CD and vinyl, or assume their readers don’t.  Vinyl offers the more authentic musical experience. You have to experience it to believe it, but once you have, there is no going back. As owner of Tubby Hayes original  Fontana pressings, some of which took many years to find, and significant expense, the result achieved here stands up well in comparison with originals. That is me on record.

Lovely detail of the tape box of the back cover, you can smell ’60s cigarette smoke and car exhaust.  Just one anachronism, the barcode, which first appeared on records ten years later in 1979 (useless trivia). Though the original record labels of Fontana and Decca are credited, the whole enterprise here seems to be that of Universal, who I guess own everything musical from this period. Full marks for responding to the growing interest in jazz, and vinyl, and to the excellent guiding hand of Mr Spillett on the project. Marketing Tip:  to complete the authentic 60s retro feel, copies need dog-eared corners and sellotaped split seams.

Collector’s Corner

Warning! Unexploded British Jazz! (unsolicited promotion!)

I was initially dubious of a modern Tubby reissue. Recently too many “lost tapes” have appeared which maybe should have stayed lost, and reissues with dubious sources that make for very disappointing listening, like the dire Strata East reissues. The engineering here is from British specialist label Gearbox, who do a line of ’60s  vintage jazz recordings intended for BBC radio broadcast, which unfortunately turn out a bit like listening to the radio, which I guess they should.

Despite having been burned with modern reissues of bootleg quality, radio quality, or cd/digital transfers on to vinyl, I’m willing to take the plunge. As they say, you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your Prince. Legal Disclaimer: I don’t include in that Prince Andrew, if you are under age.

The quality of original vintage vinyl can be reproduced today, or at least pretty close to it. This year we have seen the spectacular EMI Lansdowne Rendell Carr Quintet vinyl box set produced by Gerald “Jazzman” Short, and the exquisite Tone Poet Series from Blue Note. If the high quality of The Lost Tapes production is anything to go by, there should be some stunning reissue records in the full 11 Hayes box-set, matching the quality of the original Fontana records,  They show what can be done with access to the original source tapes, the right tools and the right attitude, and of course, played back on the right gear. And ooh look, who’d have thought it, two of the albums are MONO.

If these albums sell well, which they richly deserve to, hopefully there is more in the Universal treasure chest to be revealed.  But I suspect not the Tempos, unless Decca discover some more “lost tapes”.  C’mon guys, there has to be an undiscovered set of Tempo back up tapes…somewhere…

DECCA REMINDER! – The missing Tubby Tempos, from LJC earlier posts

TAP 5 Jazz At The Flamingo

TAP 6 After Lights Out

TAP 19 Transatlantic Alliance

TAP 22 Jazz Courriers In Concert

TAP 15 Tubby Hayes And The Jazz Couriers

TAP 29 Tubby’s Groove

 

Here Come The Men In Suits, thank you Universal! The British Jazz Explosion

Unfortunately, I already own ten of the eleven titles as original pressings, some in both mono and stereo, so it comes too late for me, though I am tempted. The 11 title box-set is a limited edition, but perhaps they will eventually issue them as individual LPs as the Jazzman titles have been.  Anyway, this is a great time to be a fan of modern jazz, especially British Modern Jazz, on vinyl.

Ho Ho Ho, Here’s looking forward to a Jazzy Christmas. Any thoughts on anything here, or indeed anything, the floor is yours.

LJC

 

20 thoughts on “Tubby Hayes: Grits, Beans And Greens: The Lost Fontana Studio Session 1969 (2019) Universal

  1. To truly have that vintage jazz record feel, modern reissues should include on the jacket of every nth copy someone’s name, phone number and inexplicable date written in marker on the front and/or back.

  2. Whilst visiting BN80 Pop Up Shop at Coal Drops Yard in London (it was a bit disappointing) The Universal Exec showed me a copy of the TH box set. Looked very nice. He seemed quite please with the work they have done on this.

  3. LJC–wonderful blog on Tubby Hayes new reissue effort by Gearbox. I do already have that current reissue LP and it’s wonderful. I, like the gentleman above am in the USA and want that 11 LP set but the shipping from the UK site is asronomical. So I’m wondering if anyone out there knows of a US vendor that might be carrying this set…eg…Dusty Groove in Chicago?? Not sure. Just a guess. Trying to get around that obnoxious shipping price. Any suggestions before they run out? Thanks in advance! nixongw@sbcglobal.net Greg

  4. I agree that there is nothing that equals being present at a “live” performance. Unfortunately, most of the jazz musicians I would like to hear “live” are now dead (and anyway it would be too much of a bother, parking and all that).
    “In physics, the observer effect is the theory that the mere observation of a phenomenon inevitably changes that phenomenon. This is often the result of instruments that, by necessity, alter the state of what they measure in some manner.” That being said, I do think that some Van Gelder Blue Note monos (and some other early LPs) provide the next best thing to being there.
    There is some very nice sax on this Hayes album, but comparing this band to Coltrane’s is quite a stretch IMHO.
    The album was reviewed in the July issue of JAZZWISE, which trumpeted its appearance on the cover and also had an article about Hayes (“Return of the Little Giant”) and an interview with drummer Spike Wells, who now works as both a priest and a musician. I suppose one could go out and hear him play “live,” and perhaps be absolved of one’s sins to boot.

  5. prince andrew is going to need to see a specialist for that burn. well done.

    i have had absolutely no luck acquiring any tubby. they seem too scarce over here. we just wanted tax-free tea, we didn’t want to miss out on british jazz too!

  6. “Vinyl offers the more authentic musical experience.”

    I disagree. Everything is inferior to actually being in the studio/club during recording. You can spend as much as you like on equipment, you’re never going to be able to recreate that sound.

    I just want to hear the music. Whether it’s on vinyl, cd, cassette, radio, Spotify, YouTube, iTunes, Bandcamp etc I couldn’t care less.

    • I agree that actually being in the studio/club during recording is the best possible scenario but among the available formats to hear long departed artists, it is also my position that “vinyl offers the more authentic musical experience.”

    • There are degrees of closeness to live performance, and some formats are less close than others. Even within the vinyl format there are better and worse sounding pressings of the same recording. Whether one cares about it is a matter of personal choice. That is not to argue they all sound the same.

      Though I am arguing against myself, I listened recently to a reel to reel tape copy of Kind of Blue taken from the original tapes, and it left me kind of blue -it sounded better than I have heard this record before.

      Tubby left the stage in 1973, so vinyl is as close as we can get. Dim the lights, drop “Down In The Village” on the platter, and you are live at Ronnie Scotts, 1962. Or close as you can get.

    • Unforgivable of me, Martin, I blame my search engine (Epic browser) for overlooking your thorough, insightful, well-researched and generally great review of the Lost Tapes. Epic browser is a free Chrome extension which blocks ads and trackers through use of a built-in US-based VPN. Unfortunately, search results often come up short, and your location turns up US dollar currency defaults. Oh Well, its that or bandwidth-eating ads and tracking.

  7. Thanks for the name check.

    Two things…

    Richard Cook never had access to Tubby’s diaries. He discovered the actual tapes before they were shipped to Germany.

    Decca/UMG do have a lot of Tempo masters. Watch this space…

    By the way, I think Grits is the dogs…

  8. Thanks for the terrific review. Been enjoying this since it hit the street. Here in the US, not as easy to get hold of Tubby recordings…even the forthcoming box which I have on pre-order from the Decca shop is costing a bloody fortune (am I saying that in proper British?) to ship Stateside. You run a terrific blog here…thanks so much. I run much more modest Instagram feed about jazz vinyl where I did review the vinyl of the Tubby GB&G a couple of months back and I do try and hit as much interesting British jazz as I become aware of…please by all means if there’s something you believe needs an extra boost of eyes across the pond I’d love to hear about it. @jazzandcoffee.

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