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Monday, April 18, 2016

GIJF: The Simon Spillett Quartet Play the Music of Tubby Hayes - Sage Gateshead. April 17

 Simon Spillett (ten); Steve Melling (pno); Alec Dankworth (bs); Miles Levin (dms).
(Review by Lance/Photos courtesy of Ken Drew).
We were still on a high from our trip back in time to the '30s and '40s with Café Society Swing when we entered the Tardis, a.k.a. The Northern Rock Foundation Hall or, for this weekend, The Jazz Lounge. This journey in time took us back to the '50s, '60s and early '70s and the life, times and music of Tubby Hayes.
This was done by showing the recently released documentary, A Man in a Hurry, followed by a live set from the Simon Spillett Quartet then a Q & A  with Spillett and the film's director, Lee Cogswell.
First things first.
The film - produced by Mark Baxter, a lifelong Hayes devotee, and Lee Cogswell I think had everyone enthralled. To me, it was further proof if such proof was needed, that Hayes was the all-time greatest British jazz musician and one of the few who could meet the Americans on a level playing field. The BBC footage of Tubby in full flight was tantalisingly short but surely served to send the believers to dig out the vinyl or the newly converted to head for the record store.
There were also many tributes paid to The Little Giant from, among others, Ronnie Scott, Spike Wells and, not surprisingly, tonight's saxophonist, Simon Spillett.
Spillett has long been an authority on jazz and his own biography of Tubby Hayes, The Long Shadow of the Little Giant, unquestionably the definitive work.
The fact that Spillett is himself a tenor player of formidable technique was proved in the set that followed  rubber-stamping his credentials.
The line-up was slightly different to that that was advertised in the programme with Steve Melling replacing John Critchenson and Miles Levin replacing Clark Tracey who in turn had replaced Spike Wells!
It didn't matter, from the opening bars of Royal Ascot we knew this was the real deal. Spillett soars through the changes at tempo de lick.  A Pint of Bitter (tune title not a demand) then a change of mood - Soria, a ballad to Tubby's second wife. Opus Ocean, The Serpent and then...Cherokee. If Spillett had been an astronaut he'd have been breakfasting on Mars by now and Slough is a fair distance from Gateshead!
Melling played brilliantly, Levin, son of a famous drummer, proved that talent can run in the family whilst Dankworth kept the Wavendon flag flying and, didn't blemish the family escutcheon - far from it - he excelled!
Next up, the Q & A session.
After the inevitable moment's silence, that usually seems like an hour when the audience are asked 'Any Questions? the questions came. A suitable end to an enjoyable evening.
But, overall, the night belonged to the late, great Tubby Hayes.
Lance.

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