Selection: Rumpus (Hayes)
. . .
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.
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.
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.
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
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.