Tubby Hayes: Split Kick – Live in Sweden 1972

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COMPOSERS: Tubby Hayes
LABELS: Savage Solveig
ALBUM TITLE: Tubby Hayes
WORKS: Split Kick – Live in Sweden 1972
PERFORMER: Tubby Hayes (tenor sax, flute) Bengt Hallberg, Staffan Abeleen (piano), Georg Riedel, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen (bass), Egil Johansen, Alex Riel (drums)


On hearing from a friend that a mutual acquaintance has passed, one jazz musician asks the other what he died of. ‘Everything’, comes the apocryphal reply. But the bleak account could well have applied to Tubby Hayes, who died in 1973 aged 38 just after these atmospheric live recordings were made in Sweden. 

The ‘Little Giant’ was one of the UK’s top bop exports and although these trio sides covering originals and standards are not among his finest, they do reveal what set him apart – even at a time when he could barely walk. A full, solid and relaxed tone that’s coupled to a nimble technique totally overwhelms the challenges posed by playing with virtual strangers on the first of the live trio dates sampled here. The second set is special because the group features virtuoso bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen – and also because Hayes’s flute playing is simply magical.


Garry Booth