#10 My Top Ten British Big Bands…No 9…Tubby Hayes

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I’m starting of with a story about Tubby Hayes’ as told by Ronnie Scott.  I was playing at a club in Rose Hill near Sutton, and was asked whether he minded if a local player sat in: “This little boy came up, not much bigger than his tenor sax. Rather patronisingly I suggested a number and off he went. He scared me to death.”

In 1951, when he was sixteen, Hayes joined Kenny Baker’s (My number six) sextet, later playing for big bandleaders such as Ambrose (my number 8) and Jack Parnell , (my number 10) In 1955 he formed his own octet, with which he toured the UK for eighteen months. He also took up flute and the vibraphone during this time, but it was as a tenor-saxophone player that he made and retained his reputation. The list of credits is a very long but, I’ve  included another story which gives you the stature of this incredible musician.

Tubby Hayes was one of the session musicians on Music in a Dolls House  the acclaimed 1967 debut album by rock band Family, on which the young Mike Batt arranged the strings and brass. Batt credits Hayes with saving his arrangement on the track “Old Songs for New Songs”, which was his first major recording session as an arranger, on the first take, he discovered he had inadvertently notated the parts in the wrong key but Hayes and his colleagues, realizing his mistake, discreetly transposed their parts by ear so that they would match the backing track.

The era of Rock N’ Roll and the Beatles left jazz musicians reeling in the 60’s and Tubby Hayes in 1973, died during a second heart operation at Hammersmith at the age of thirty-eight. He was cremated and the ashes interred at the Golders Green Crematorium , where there is a white stone memorial plaque affixed to one of the walls. The epitaph reads “Long live his memory and his music”.

A DVD documentary, Tubby Hayes, A Man In A Hurry was released in 2015. It contains archive footage and interviews with fellow musicians, friends, family and fans of Tubby.

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