Tubby Hayes - Tubbs In NY

Tubby Hayes Tubbs In N.Y. (Fontana 1961)

Tenor saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Tubby Hayes took a jump across the great pond in 1961 and fitted right in. Tubbs In NY is the smash result of a gig with hi-level American colleagues Clark Terry, Horace Parlan and Eddie Costa.

Tubby Hayes - Tubbs In NY

Personnel

Tubby Hayes (tenor saxophone), Clark Terry (trumpet), Eddie Costa (vibraphone), Horace Parlan (piano), George Duvivier (bass), Dave Bailey (drums)

Recorded

in 1961 in New York City

Released

as STFL 595 in 1961

Track listing

Side A:
You For Me
A Pint Of Bitter
Airegin
Side B:
Opus Ocean
Soon
Doxy


Although hardly a diaspora, more than a few Europeans visited the promised land of that thing called jazz in the fifties and sixties. Particularly the Jerusalem of jazz, New York City. For example, the Swedish Rolf Ericsson, Belgian Bobby Jaspar, German Jutta Hipp and Dutch Nico Bunnink preceded Hayes in their thirst for improving their art of improvising amongst the prime players of the day. Tubby Hayes was the first Englishman to try his hand in the USA, according to his biographer, the saxophonist Simon Spillett. He should know. Surely the American musicians, sharp in their assessment of a player’s qualities, recognized Tubby Hayes as a saxophonist who ‘got it’, indeed, could scare the shit out of anybody.

Tubbs, English icon. The North-Irish revere George Best, the English and Londoners in-the-know worship Tubby Hayes, perhaps not the greatest striker but certainly the prime tenor saxophonist in British classic jazz history. Bloke with a thirst for life, vice and freedom music, which as a logical consequence meant becoming one of the liberating forces for England’s post-war youth that eagerly tried to find its voice in the conservative, don’t-spill-from-y’r-cup-a-tea-type British society. From Raynes Park in South-London, Hayes demonstrated a natural talent for playing a variety of instruments including vibes at a young age, but mostly focused on tenor saxophone. The short Hayes, dubbed ‘The Little Giant’ by saxophonist Benny Green (Johnny Griffin: ‘Hey, Benny, I’m the Little Giant, remember? Down here, man, down here!’) ran the beloved English (hard) bop quintet The Jazz Couriers with fellow Londoner, the illustrious English saxophonist and club owner Ronnie Scott during the years 1957-59.

After Tubbs In NY, Hayes was invited over again, resulting in Return Visit (Fontana, 1963) and a number of US appearances in ’64 and ’65, yet Hayes didn’t quite get a foothold in the US. Instead, he remained busy in the UK, expanding his territory into the radio, tv and film world, although the lull that had set in in the jazz business as a result of pop music’s reign also affected Hayes. His later years were marked by a deteriorating health. Hayes passed away in 1973.

Somehow the solo’s of Tubby Hayes roll on like steam trains, he laughs hearthily and makes swift, surprising U-turns while the intermittent plethora of notes serves as the glue between chapters of fascinating tales. He has a big sound and a fiery style influenced by Coltrane, Rollins, Mobley and, by his own account, Zoot Sims. A swinger. Working with a set of familiar tunes and changes, the presidential style of Hayes blends neatly with the solid rhythm section of veteran bass player George Duvivier and drummer Dave Bailey, pianist Horace Parlan’s mix of angular bop and percussive gospel tinges, the buoyant, masterful Clark Terry and suavely swinging Eddie Costa.

Hayes takes on two Rollins originals, Airegin and Doxy, showing he’s the kind of player that’s present from note one, no bullshit. The Clark Terry composition A Pint Of Bitter’s loping tempo suggests that, in spite of his reputation, Tubbs doesn’t wash it away in a few swallows but at least parks it a few secs at the bar while lighting a cig, always keeping the flame slightly under the tip. How unlike the hooligans that wobble down the alleys of Amsterdam’s Red Light District, throwing up on the sidewalk in between gulps.

Highlights? Certainly Gershwin’s Soon qualifies, Hayes rollercoasting through it with the panache of an Olympic slalom ski champion. Lean in the hips, no doubt.

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Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis Afro-Jaws (Riverside 1960)

Blue Note is admired for immaculately organised sessions. In this respect, Riverside should also be granted a place under the sun. When founder Orrin Keepnews signed Thelonious Monk in 1958, he decided to dedicate the pianist’s label debut album to the work of Duke Ellington, revealing challenging conceptual thinking. Riverside also created new vistas for its roster. Eddie ‘Lockjaw’ Davis’ Afro-Jaws is a case in point. It’s a well-rehearsed session involving carefully chosen personel and repertoire.

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Personnel

Eddie ‘Lockjaw’ Davis (tenor saxophone), Clark Terry (trumpet, flugelhorn), Ernie Royal (trumpet), Phil Sunkel (trumpet), John Ballo (trumpet A3-4), Lloyd Mayers (piano), Larry Gales (bass), Ben Riley (drums), Ray Barretto (conga, bongo), Gil Lopez (arranger)

Recorded

on May 4 & 12, 1960 in NYC

Released

as RLP 343 in 1960

Track listing

Side A:
Wild Rice
Guanco Lament
Tin Tin Deo
Jazz-A-Samba
Side B:
Alma Alegre
Star Eyes
Afro-Jaws


Tough Tenor Eddie ‘Lockjaw’ Davis adapts well to the Afro-Cuban setting reminiscent of Dizzy Gillespie’s groups. Should we expect otherwise? Davis blew horn on stage at Minton’s Playhouse amidst the bop innovators in the late forties and early fifties, functioning as de facto jam session MC. He is known for his work in the classic organ combo format of, notably, Shirley Scott and extended cooperations with the equally hard blowing, fellow tenorist Johnny Griffin, but also had journeyed through the big bands of Cootie Williams and Count Basie. Experience abound.

Gil Lopez wrote four out of seven infectious tunes and his arrangements are in your face, perfect foil for the gutsy sound of Davis. A major part of the tight group sound is the rhythm tandem of drummer Ben Riley and bassist Larry Gales, who would go on to form a good team the following years for Griffin, Davis and, in the mid-to-late sixties, Thelonious Monk.

Wild Rice sets the album’s pace, opening with a mix of heavy percussion, tenor and brass before leading to the buoyant theme and four/four solo section. The rest of the album follows the same course more or less. Davis has a suave way of weaving through the themes and his solo outings are on the money, both displayed with a relentless beat.

Alma Alegre is the odd one out, a slow, grinding piece that has Davis beautifully riding the waves of an intricate, multiple bar theme. Ever since Dizzy Gillespie introduced Chano Pozo and Gil Fuller’s Tin Tin Deo into the jazz realm, musicians have been fond of playing it. ‘Jaws’ kickstarts himself into furtive action after a couple of curious, worn clichés and Clark Terry is his usual masterful self.

The tempo of ballad Star Eyes, the sole standard off the album, is taken up a few notches and graced with a honky ‘Jaws’-solo. Davis’ Ben Webster-like mindset works equally well in the jivy bop riff Jazz-A-Samba. The album ends with the title track Afro-Jaws, a relentless groove.

Special mention for the slightly surrealistic record cover. Very carefully ‘organized’ as well.

Grassella Oliphant - The Grass Is Greener

Grassella Oliphant The Grass Is Greener (Atlantic 1967)

It gets to you. That slow draggin’ beat of Get Out My Life, Woman that makes you think you’re listening to an alternative backing track of the Allen Touissant tune as performed by Lee Dorsey with Clark Terry ‘singing’ through his pocket trumpet, flavored with the lazy horns that state the well-known theme and the added bonus of John Patton’s greasy organ. A surprising start to a hip record by obscure drummer Grassella Oliphant.

Grassella Oliphant - The Grass Is Greener

Personnel

Grassella Oliphant (drums), Grant Green (guitar), John Patton (organ), Harold Ousley (tenor saxophone A1, A2, A4, B1, B3, B4), Clark Terry (trumpet, fluegelhorn, pocket trumpet A1, A2, A4, B1, B3, B4), Major Holley (bass)

Recorded

in 1965 in NYC

Released

as SD 1494 in 1967

Track listing

Side A:
Get Out My Life, Woman
Ain’t That Peculiar
Soul Woman
Peaches Are Better Down The Road
Side B:
The Yodel
Cantaloupe Woman
The Latter Days
Rapid Shave


Well, not that obscure. A number of hip hop artists have plundered The Grass Is Greener for beats, as well as Lee Dorsey’s funky recording of Allen Touissant’s composition. Think what you like about these methods – whether it’s pure theft or a mature artistic effort – at least they had good taste.

I wouldn’t call The Grass Is Greener an all-out smash, though. One’s search for a bit of flair in Oliphant’s drumming in the two jazzier bits will remain fruitless. And from the soul and funk-jazz tunes that luckily comprise the main part of the album, Ain’t That Peculiar (the 1965 hit for Marvin Gaye that was written by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles and was a very popular cover among soul jazz artists of that period) doesn’t really pick up steam and is redeemed largely by the sharp-as-a-tack presence of guitarist Grant Green. The rest, however, and especially organist John Patton’s compositions Soul Woman and The Yodel are on the ball from start to finish.

Both tunes receive an unconventional snare treatment by Oliphant, a continuous, rollicking roll that is continued throughout. It’s powerful and stimulating for the other musicians. The Yodel is a particularly heavy cooker in which Patton and Green trade red hot solo’s. With such hard bop giants in tow, it’s hard to go wrong, and Oliphant doesn’t.

A comparison with John Patton’s album Got A Good Thing Goin’ (recorded April 29, 1966), that also has got Grant Green aboard, is justified. An uncommon figure of three tunes overlap with The Grass Is Greener: The Yodel, Soul Woman and Ain’t That Peculiar. It includes a version of the latter that runs smoother than Oliphant’s take. John Patton’s originals are cookin’ and faster executed, including outstanding Green and Patton solo’s. Nevertheless, I prefer the earlier 1965 versions of The Yodel and Soul Woman, that possess the added tenor sax of Harold Ousley on The Yodel and a more ‘southern’ feel. Both fine albums, I dutifully stipulate, deserve a place in your shopping bag.

Grassella Oliphant (nicknamed “Grass”) dropped out of the business in 1970, only to return professionally after a 40-year hiatus in 2010 in the New Jersey area. He won’t make the cover of Downbeat Magazine, but will undoubtly serve the citizens of New Jersey a tasty and spicy meal.

Johnny Griffin - The Big Soul-Band

Johnny Griffin Orchestra The Big Soul-Band (Riverside 1960)

A look at Johnny Griffin’s side dates around the time of The Big Soul-Band’s release in 1960 shows he was a very sought-after player. No wonder, because the ‘Little Giant’ decidedly had his chops together, playing masterfully executed fast runs, all the while retaining a heartfelt sense of the blues. Cooperation with Art Blakey, Thelonious Monk, Clark Terry and John Coltrane, and solo endeavors on the Blue Note and Riverside label resulted in very positive critical acclaim. Thus, by the time the idea of putting out a record of grass roots jazz took fruition, Griffin was ready for it.

Johnny Griffin - The Big Soul-Band

Personnel

Johnny Griffin (tenor saxophone), Harold Mabern (piano), Bobby Timmons (piano), Clark Terry (trumpet), Bobby Bryant (trumpet), Charles Davis (baritone saxophone), Edwin Williams (tenor saxophone), Julian Priester (trombone), Matthew Gee (trombone), Pat Patrick (alto saxophone), Frank Strozier (alto saxophone), Bob Cranshaw (bass), Victor Sproles (bass), Charlie Persip (drums), Norman Simmons (arranger)

Recorded

on May 24 & 31 and June 3, 1960 in NYC

Released

as RLP 331 in 1960

Track listing

Side A:
Side A:
Wade In The Water
Panic Room Blues
Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen
Meditation
Side B:
Holla
So Tired
Deep River
Jubilation


And forget the concept. There was one, but its execution is wholly unforced. The album kicks off with a sweeping version of Wade In The Water. The pace of the album is set: a solid rythym section of drummer Charlie Persip and either bassist Vic Sproles or Bob Cranshaw, who spend much of their time in the A and E strings, therefore adding a definite down-home feeling, supports a brass and reed section that would please both Oliver Nelson and Count Basie. Griffin’s tenor beautifully weaves in and out of that big sound with sudden bebop stabs and lenghty gospel shouts.

Meditation listens like a suspence story should read, it builds up tension making use of Norman Simmons’ subtle score and a switch from delicate brush work to exciting press rolls by Charlie Persip, to a release that has Griffin telling a story you could meditate on for hours.

If you think side A is good, try side B. Holla puts you right where you want to be if your left ear digs Brother Ray saying ‘What I’d say’ and your right ear enjoys the halleluja of the Twenty or Thirty Blind Boys of Alabama. Mentioning the inclusion of Bobby Timmons’ So Tired (Timmons, incidentally, has guest spots on Meditation and Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen) and Deep River should give you an idea of what this album is about. While So tired is executed properly, it doesn’t reach the heights of either Timmons’ or Cannonball Adderley’s Quintet’s performances. Deep River is a jubilant affair. Initially, brass and reeds are left out, leaving space for intimate interplay between Griffin and the rhytym section, only to return in the good sense of bombast. I wouldn’t say that I didn’t know where I currently resided but Rampart Street seemed pretty close!

Jazz can do you like that. Here’s a record that has been gathering dust in my cabinet for about fifteen years and up pops a different favorite tune everytime I listen to it now. Rest assured that The Big Soul Band ages as well as any Ardbeg scotch is famous for doing.