Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Hayes, Tubby

Hayes, Tubby (Edward Brian), tenor saxophone, flute, vibes, arranger (b. London, January 30, 1935, d. June 8, 1973, London). Perhaps Britainís most beloved jazz musician, Tubby Hayes was a prodigy who seemed to master nearly every musical task he attempted. Already a technical marvel on the saxophone when he first appeared on the London jazz scene at age 16, Tubby worked with several big bands before starting his own band in the mid-1950s. Before long, he was writing many of the arrangements for the group. In 1957, he teamed with Britainís other tenor giant, Ronnie Scott, to form The Jazz Couriers, acclaimed as one of the finest small combos in British jazz. When the Couriers disbanded, Scott opened a jazz club in London which featured the finest British and American jazz musicians of the time. Scott was able to overturn a long-standing UK Musicianís Union rule that prevented US musicians from playing in England. Scott proposed a trade-off where Tubby Hayes would play in New York for a season and US tenorman Zoot Sims would play at Scottís club in London. Because of this trade (and several US tours in the years following), Hayes was able to hear the newest styles of American jazz first-hand (including modal, free and rock styles) and he brought those styles to his English audiences through his own quintet and big band.

In the United States, Hayes was known as a lightning-fast hard bopper, but his British discography reveals several dramatic changes in his style. There is a vast difference from the straight-ahead recordings of the Jazz Couriers to the free, uninhibited playing on the 1967 album Mexican Green. Hayes could always revert to his older styles as needed, especially when fronting a big band, but on the title cut of 100% Proof", he shows that several of his styles could co-exist on the same track.

Hayes had a heroin habit which sidelined him during long periods in the late sixties. His nickname came from his large frame, but after a pair of open-heart surgeries, the nickname hardly fit. He died on the operating table during another heart surgery. Hayes left a huge discography, and many live recordings from the sixties have been discovered and issued in recent years. The British tenor saxophonist Simon Spillett is presently writing a biography of Hayes, and has written highly informative liner notes for several of the newer Hayes releases. Spillett's own playing also reflects a strong Hayes influence and he has recorded several of Hayes' compositions. A superb memorial website can be found at http://tubbs1935.webs.com/

Contributor: Thomas Cunniffe