When The Duke Met Tubby

The Battle Of The Bands.

On Tuesday 28 September 1999, a battle of the bands took place as part of the Soho Jazz and Heritage Festival. The venue was London’s famed 100 Club, and the bands were Echoes of Ellington and The Tubby Hayes Legacy.

The club was packed with jazz musos, swing dancers and the just plain curious to see how it would pan out between the swing-based Echoes and the more bebop/mainstream sound of The THL. As it turned out, an honourable draw was declared, with much good humour and even more good music.

For those not familiar with him, Tubby was born Edward Brian Hayes on 30 January 1935. He became one of England's top jazz musicians of the 1950s and '60s; a fine hard bop stylist on tenor and occasionally vibes and flute. A professional at 15, Hayes played with Kenny Baker and in the big bands of Ambrose, Vic Lewis and Jack Parnell during 1951-55. He led his own group after that and started doubling on vibes in 1956. Hayes co-led the Jazz Couriers with Ronnie Scott (1957-59) and appeared in the U.S. a few times during 1961-65. He headed his own big band in London, sat in with Duke Ellington's Orchestra in 1964 and was featured at many European festivals. Heart trouble forced him out of action during 1969-71 and caused his premature death in London on 8 June 1973 at the age of 38. (extracted from Scott Yanow’s All Music Guide).

Echoes of Ellington led off with one of their standards, Rockin’ In Rhythm, fairly much setting out their stall for the evening. At the end of the number, bandleader Pete Long thanked the crowd for its applause and then announced "And now here’s Dave and his band with some of their modern stuff!" With that, Legacy leader Dave Bishop took his troops through Second City Steamer.

There were many memorable moments during the two sets played by the bands. Echoes of Ellington’s secret weapon was vocalist Patti Revell, and she scored a direct hit with Take The ‘A’ Train, ably supported by the formidable Ben Castle on saxophone. The Hayes Gang responded immediately with a swinging number of their own, Keep It In The Groove, with Dave Bishop on sax.

The second set saw Echoes lead off again, with the trumpet of Andy Cuss to the fore on Perdido, answered by the THL with Milestone. Ray Gelato then joined Patti Revell at the microphone for Just Squeeze Me, with a solo spot for Gavin Mallet’s trumpet. Richard Hitchcock’s alto sax powered the Legacy’s version of Parisian Thoroughfare, but Echoes struck right back with Mrs. Revell entrancing the entire audience on I Just Want To Make Love To You. The trombone of Mike Innes supported Patti with some suitably seductive slidework.

Andy Macintosh was the featured soloist on tenor saxophone for the Legacy’s Jazz At The Paris, and Jay Craig replied for Echoes with some impressive baritone sax during Frustration. The Legacy then unleashed their baritone blower, sometime Echoes sideman Martin Williams, as he drove the unit through Uno Momentum.

For musos and casual onlookers alike, it was a fascinating evening, comparing the styles of the bands. The Ellington Orchestra perhaps had the advantage, being able to draw on some six decades or so of tunes, and arrangements from different periods. The Tubby Hayes Legacy were more focused on times from the 50’s onwards, although Keep It In The Groove and Karen showed that they could also swing it when they wanted.

Here’s the full musical menu that was laid out that evening:

Echoes of Ellington played: The Tubby Hayes Legacy replied with:
Rockin’ In Rhythm Second City Steamer
Prelude To A Kiss Number One
Take The ‘A’ Train Keep It In The Groove
The Flaming Sword Strictly Confidential
Viennese Waltz (?) Karen
I Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good Bluesology
Stompin’ At The Savoy [End of first set]
Perdido Milestone
Just Squeeze Me Parisian Thoroughfare
I Just Want To Make Love To You Jazz At The Paris
Frustration Uno Momentum
Satin Doll Suddenly Last Tuesday [End of second set]

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