Personnel: Tubby Hayes; Ronnie Scott, The Jazz Couriers.
Blue Hayes is a broad selection of the material that British powerhouse saxophonist Tubby Hayes cut for Tempo Records between 1955 and 1969. Covering two CDs and containing five cuts, this is over two and a half hours of listening and showcases Hayes at the very peak of his powers as both an improviser and a composer -- he did some smoking arrangements, too. For Americans who think that British jazzmen of that era were inferior, listen again: Hayes could hold his own with anybody and was far better than most. Some of the other great musicians on these sides include the trumpeter Kenny Wheeler at the beginning of his long and fruitful career, drummer Spike Wells, guitarist Louis Stewart, and many others. There are live sides and tough studio dates ranging from quartets and quintets to larger ensembles. This double disc does contain a gem in the addition of a 1969 big-band date that is previously unreleased. These four tracks, which count for a full 40 minutes of disc two, are stellar. The Hayes solo that opens "100% Proof," the album's final cut, is proof that he had it till the end. Muscular, quick, and imaginative, Hayes was a giant whose genius has never been properly celebrated by American jazz fans. ~ Thom Jurek