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Bebop Spoken There

More from Jazz Monthly:

Jack Cooke: "...neither Giuffre nor Jim Hall are even adequate jazz musicians, they are technically limited, and more importantly, seem unable to improvise logically" - (Review of a JATP concert. Jazz Monthly May 1960)

Michael James: "...if Ellis [Herb] has merits they are definitely not these [fantastic fire and drive]". - (Review of Herb Ellis Meets Jimmy Giuffre (LP). Jazz Monthly May 1960).

Archives

Today Tuesday October 17

Afternoon
Vieux Carré Jazzmen - Black Bull, 98 Front St., East Boldon NE36 0SG. 1pm. Free. 0191 5365127. 5th of 6 consecutive gigs. 2 mins from East Boldon metro.
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Evening
Charles Gordon (solo piano) - Redwood Bar, Vermont Hotel, Newcastle. 10pm - midnight. Free.
Jam Session - Jazz Café, 25 Pink Lane, Newcastle NE1 5DW. 8pm. Free. James Harrison on piano.
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To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Solweig Elizabeth Grönlund

(By Simon Spillett)
It's with great sadness that I have learned of the death of Liz Grönlund, Tubby Hayes's partner for the final two years of his life, who passed away in St. Thomas' Hospital, London, in the early hours of Tuesday September 22nd, following a fall. She was in her mid-80s.
Born in Finland, Grönlund came to the UK in the early 1960s, initially working as a translator for an English aristocrat, Lord Dundonald. Already a jazz fan, while visiting Ronnie Scott's club with a friend in late 1962, she met Tubby Hayes. “It was such a small club that I couldn't avoid meeting him. I had to go to the loo and pass him, so contact was unavoidable,” she recalled in 2008. The attraction was instant and mutual and although Hayes was married, the pair began a brief affair. After an amicable split, Grönlund and Hayes agreed to keep in touch, maintaining a sporadic exchange of letters which ended when the saxophonist’s drug habit bit deep during the mid-1960s.
A chance encounter in the company of Hayes's close friend, trumpeter Jimmy Deuchar, led to the couple re-establishing their relationship in late 1971 , with Hayes moving into Grönlund's Gloucester Place basement flat soon after.
Following his recent heart surgery, Grönlund was shocked to find Hayes a shadow of his former self, experiencing “great difficulty to accept that he couldn't do things he was able to do before.”
Nevertheless, with Grönlund at his side Hayes embarked on the last phase of his career, a period which found him visiting Scandinavia several times (including a trip to Grönlund's native Helsinki), taking an interest in free music (with the band Splinters) and reforming both his quartet and big band. During a trip to Oslo in 1972, Hayes told journalist Randi Hultin that in Grönlund he had found the kind of steadying personal relationship that had eluded him all his life, adding “I couldn't manage without her.”
Grönlund also gave Hayes something close to a conventional home life for the first time in his life and their flat soon became a familiar port of call for London's jazz fraternity, and, on occasion, international visitors too, including Roland Kirk and James Moody, both of whom eager to taste Liz's legendary chilli. Of the many things she later recalled from their final eighteen months together, she spoke warmly of Hayes's self-mocking humour, of his love of the music of John Coltrane, of his cavalier disregard for the deadlines imposed by commercial composing commissions and his affection for their two pets, Mynah bird Nappy and cat Noddy.
When Hayes fell ill for the final time in May 1973 and was hospitalised in order to undergo the surgery that ultimately failed to save him, it was Liz to whom the jazz community expressed their sorrow and regret. One of the many letters of condolence she received in the weeks after Tubby's death, from the Musicians Union, was addressed to Mrs. Hayes, a title which she certainly deserved in emotional terms if not legally. Almost single-handedly, she organised Hayes' funeral and wake, even ensuring that a photographer captured some of the event on film, all the while attempting to deflect the grief that would shortly overwhelm her.
Recording her thoughts on Tubby some months after his death she said simply “they don't make men like that anymore. They never did. He was the only one.”
During the years immediately after Hayes's death, Grönlund remained in the flat they had shared, keeping it almost as a shrine to the saxophonist’s memory. She even began a tradition of uniting old friends like Ian Hamer and Spike Wells once a year to share their memories of Hayes, but as his music began to sink out of sight in the late 1970s, she became increasingly bitter about a jazz scene that appeared to have forgotten his contributions.
In the late-1980s, she assisted in the production of Barbara Schwarz's Tubby Hayes discography, but remained wary of the press after the way it had handled some of the “facts” surrounding Tubby's death. Almost unbelievably, via a circuitous route she contacted the author in 2005, agreeing to finally share her memories, resulting in her story becoming central to the recently published biography Tubby Hayes: The Long Shadow of The Little Giant – The Life, Work and Legacy of Tubby Hayes (Equinox Publishing, 2015). Along with giving a lengthy and fascinating interview and providing rare photographs, she also granted permission for Hayes's personal tape archive to be explored and catalogued, eventually leading to the establishment of the Savage-Solweig label, dedicated to the release of previously unissued recordings by the tenorist’s various groups.
One of the final pieces Tubby Hayes composed was in dedication to Liz, the bossa-nova Solweig, titled after her Finnish first name and which he performed on his last BBC radio session as a leader in March 1973, a few months before his death. It was Grönlund who also encouraged Hayes to play the Jimmy Van Heusen ballad I Thought About You – one of her favourite themes - a composition that drew out the saxophonists lyrical flair.
Various versions of this survive, including one taped in Stockholm in February 1972 (available on the Storyville CD Tubby Hayes - Quartet in Scandinavia.)
On a personal note, this writer would like to pay tribute to Liz's kindness and generosity. She once said she had waited a very long time indeed to see Tubby's memory honoured in print. Her contribution to The Long Shadow of The Little Giant was invaluable and helped transform the latter part of the book. In fact, without her contribution, much of the confusion and misinformation about Hayes's later days would have simply persisted. In that, jazz fans owe her a huge debt.
Simon Spillett
PHOTO: Tubby Hayes and Liz, at Tubby's Mum's house, Easter 1972

1 comment :

  1. Thank you Simon for that beautiful insight into the life of Tubbs and Liz who must have been a great inspiration to him - may she rest in peace.

    ReplyDelete

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Bebop Spoken Here -- Here, being the north-east of England -- centred in the blues heartland of Newcastle and reaching down to the Tees Delta and looking upwards to the Land of the Kilt.
Not a very original title, I know; not even an accurate one as my taste, whilst centred around the music of Bird and Diz, extends in many directions and I listen to everything from King Oliver to Chick Corea and beyond. Not forgetting the Great American Songbook the contents of which has provided the inspiration for much great jazz and quality popular singing for round about a century.
The idea of this blog is for you to share your thoughts and pass on your comments on discs, gigs, jazz - music in general. If you've been to a gig/concert or heard a CD that knocked you sideways please share your views with us. Tell us about your favourites, your memories, your dislikes.
Lance (Who wishes it to be known that he is not responsible for postings other than his own and that he's not always responsible for them.)
Contact: lanceliddle@gmail.com I look forward to hearing from you.

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