The impulse to issue everything by Tubby must be hard to resist. Sometimes this has resulted in bad sound that compromises the result. But, through the storm, it’s worth persevering. Here, that’s not so much a problem, for all these tracks are taken from BBC broadcasts and even with the presumed home recording the sound’s not too bad. So, every track is riveting.
A heavy little giant deserves heavy featuring and he gets it on a wide range of very interesting material. The main diversions are vocals by his girlfriend Joy Marshall, who sings on four tracks (not just the suggested two). The dazzling flute of Sometime Ago is offset by springing bass from Jeff Clyne – we should remember that there was great British bass playing before Ron Matthewson.
This early quartet, led by the modest but talented Terry Shannon, was a valued precursor to the later classic one. But throughout it all, Tubby was impervious and the agility and beauty of his creations was unmatched.
There’s no doubt that the original 14-minute studio version of 100% Proof was the great flag-waver of Tubby’s career. There’s a version of it here that’s only a bit shorter. Like the longest one that shared the solo space with Ronnie Scott, another BBC broadcast issued on Master Mix, it was a broiling catalogue of lightning improvisations by the master. He was a man who was to tower in eminence over all European musicians except for perhaps Django Reinhardt and George Shearing. Tubby had a tap that he turned and it unleashed the flood of inspired inspirations whether it was a beautiful ballad like Souriya, or a flute and tenor dig into So What.
Beware that at the end of this track there is a sudden and loud jump in the volume which persists for the rest of the album. There is some distortion as a result. This should have been adjusted before pressing and impairs an otherwise excellent album.
CD1: (1) A Change Of Setting; Blues For Pipkins; Double Stopper; The Song Is You; Whisper Not; 100% Proof; Blame It On My Youth; Wives And Lovers; I Never Know When To Say When; What’s Blue? (47.17)
CD2: (2) Mini Minor; Con Alma; Some Time Ago; Souriya; So What; (3) Change Of Setting; Alone Together; Some Time Ago; Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most; Don’t Fall Off The Bridge (49.09)
(1) Ian Hamer, Derek Healey, Greg Bowen, Shake Keane, Kenny Wheeler (t); Keith Christie, Johnny Marshall, Gib Wallace, Nat Peck (tb); Alfie Reece (tu); Tubby Hayes (ts, f, vib); Bob Burns, Ray Swinfield; Art Ellefson, Bobby Wellins, Ronnie Ross (reeds and woodwind); Stan Tracey (p); Freddy Logan (b); Ronnie Stephenson (d). BBC broadcast, London, 30 August 1965.
(2) Hayes (s, f); Terry Shannon (p); Jeff Clyne (b); Benny Goodman (d). BBC broadcast, London, 25 January 1965.
(3) as (2) but Ronnie Stephenson (d) replaces Goodman. BBC broadcast, London, 12 July 1965.
Rhythm And Blues Records RandB080