Tubby Hayes-A Pint Of Bitter, Bound To Be A Good Thing...

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Tubby Hayes – The Life Behind The Tenor, is a brilliant, and insightful limited edition book, that takes a closer look at the life of the British Jazz icon, Tubby Hayes. It has recently been published by Mono Media Books and is limited to one hundred copies.

It is quite simply, a beautiful, handcrafted hardback book that is cloth-bound in black by the artisan that is, Michael Curran, of Tangerine Press.

The book is full to the brim of the sort of things that any fans of Tubby would most definitely want to see. It is filled with all those personal things that enthusiasts and cultural historians want, newspaper clippings, flyers, letters, family photos, and pictures of things that belonged to The Little Giant, (a nickname, that he had been given, and subsequently stuck.) as they give a clearer insight into the man, who in British Jazz circles was classed as a legend by his fans, and peers alike.

The ideas man for this book, is a man who is an enthusiastic dynamo of a man, the very talented and exuberant Mark Baxter, a man who is an author, film producer, facilitator and lover of fine things, whether it be the music, style, or the arts that enrich, not only his own life but that of others.

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I took the opportunity after receiving a copy of the book, to put some questions to him about this excellent, and almost bespoke project:

JD - In your introduction to the book you mention how you were introduced to the music of Tubby Hayes was through purchasing the Jazz Club Volume Two compilation album by Dj Paul Murphy. I too was introduced to the music of Tubby Hayes on the same album. Although I bought my copy much later than when you bought yours - it was sometime in the early 90s. Can you tell the readers what it was that struck you? What it was that really stood out about that first tune?

MB -From around 1983, due to name-checks from groups like The Style Council, and me having a general interest in 'old' music, classic soul, etc. which led onto checking out jazz, I was exposed to names like Thelonius Monk, Chet Baker, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane to name but a few. I soaked up those mid to late 50s sounds very quickly. I was besotted with the records, the clothes, the album sleeves and in some respects the lifestyle. I became a member of Ronnie Scotts at 23, just to be in among the 'jazz life' which could be whatever you wanted it to be back then, as I was young, single and had a decent job. I was then pointed in the direction of Paul Murphy's compilations and discovered Tubby. I can't think I had noticed him before that but was delighted to find a British player, who could 'compete' with the best of them, in my mind anyway. The song that hooked me in was 'A Pint of Bitter' which I went back to time and time again. Why to that tune is hard to say. In fact I stopped questioning why a few years back and just accepted I was guided towards it for some reason. There I found someone who would play a big part in my life a few years down the line, namely Edward Brian Hayes.

JD -You are the Head Honcho or at least the face as it were, of Mono Media- the film production company behind various Modernist enthused documentaries, and a few years ago in 2015 the fantastic documentary Tubby Hayes - A Man In A Hurry was released and is a highly respected film about The Little Giant. When you were making the documentary with Lee Cogswell, and you were collating the material, and speaking to the various contributors - such as Simon Spillett - who is also the author of the foreword to this book - did you already have an idea that there was going to be a book - or was it purely just an idea about making a film at that time?

MB - From 2003 I had begun writing and around 2012 and onto my 6th book or so, my mind turned to write one on Tubby, By this stage, I was Googling Tubby for info. and every time I did, the name Simon Spillett would pop up. On chat rooms, blogs, and jazz discussion sites in general. They all said Simon was writing a book on Tubby, so I knew he'd beaten me to the idea. However there was no sign of it being published, so I contacted Simon - and he assured me he was only a year or so away from having the book out, and I respected that. My thoughts turned then, to film. I love documentaries and I was keen to make one. I met Lee (Cogswell) through work we were doing with the band Stone Foundation at the time - and we got on well. Lee was keen to move on from more everyday work into a more creative field and I said join me and we'll have a crack at the Tubby story. We are partners 50/50 in that, and both bring different skill sets to it. It works very well. I mentioned the film idea to Simon, who then sent me all his notes for my research, which was a lovely thing to do and gave me the basis for our script. Of course, Simon had to be the main interview for the film. He knows Tubby's life so well.

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JD -Tubby Hayes has seen a resurgence in popularity thanks to the tireless work of people like yourself and Simon Spillett. Tubby was a kind of unsung hero of the British Jazz scene, that the majority of the mainstream were unaware of, or had forgotten about. Making the documentary and producing this book has helped with that resurgence. Was that your aim with these projects, or were you just doing them because you felt that it was a story that needed telling for history's sake?

MB - You're right, Tubby was all but forgotten by the majority of the world really, but as always, there is a group of die hard’s, who continually try and keep a name alive. I tapped into those guys and got some great insights for the film. When we started in 2013, I approached Sky and the BBC to get a commission, but they couldn't see it as a film for them, indeed I was told that there were only 10 minutes in the man's story worth looking at. Obviously that was a joke as far as I was concerned. So, I decided to self-fund and God bless those that put a few bob in the pot to help get it made. As you say with all the noise on Tubby and his career now, we were proved right in trying to put his name back on the UK cultural map, which was really my main aim I guess

JD -The book is full of personal clippings of Tubby's, and photos that include handwritten notes and ephemeral objects that belonged to Tubby, and also people that were close too him. You also have Tubby's son Richard involved with providing information and the afterword. What was it like chatting to the legend's son, and hearing things about Tubby from such a personal perspective? Did it reinforce your own idea of the man, or make you look at him in a different way?

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MB - Richard has been great with this and in supporting our work on his dad in general. Fair to say - he is delighted that his old dad is now getting his dues. Richard was a little hard to track down for an interview for the film in truth, I guess being wary of what we were up to, but once we met him, he's been great ever since. When I approached him with the idea of 'Life Behind The Tenor' he was on board straight away and opened up on what he had for us to photograph and put in the book. It's been great, getting to know him and his lovely wife Julie, over the last few years. I think it is fair to say, he's a different character to his dad, but he is a creative man with a very keen interest in the Arts, so some of the genes have definitely been passed on

JD, In the book there are a couple of sketches of Tubby by the late Steven Millington of Dry British. Many of the people who were aware of Steven's work were shocked at his recent passing. Did you ever meet Steven when you were collating for the book? His pictures are fantastic and are a great example of his talent. There is, it seems, to be a number of contributors to the book, are there any apart from the aforementioned, you would like to mention?

MB- Going back a few years I commissioned Steve to do a drawing of Tubby for me personally and then got to know him 'online'. Once this book was underway in the middle of last year, I asked if he had any sketches I could use and he sent over some new work which is now in the book. I was very upset at the news of his death. He was a very talented man and far too young to leave us and his young family. Shocking that. I have been in touch with his family and friends offering them a book if they wanted one, as maybe as it was one of the last jobs he did. Bless him. As for others involved, well, everything I do is always a team effort. I might drive it forward from the start, but I need good people around me to complete anything. The bookbinder Michael Curran of Tangerine Press was great to work with, Lee took the bulk of the photos and also made the promo film which looked great. Simon and Richard got right behind the idea, and artists Ed Gray and Tracey Coverly, who have used Tubby in their creations, also gave me their blessings in reproducing some of their work. My missus Lou is the one who backs me the most though. Without her support, I wouldn't be able to do half the things I do. She is one special lady.

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JD- Lastly. If you were to put a Tubby Hayes record on now - what would it be?

MB-  Oooh blimey. That changes hourly. If you put a gun to head right now, I'd go for 'Change of Setting'. Thanks for your time Jason and for supporting the book as you have. Well played sir

JD- It’s my pleasure Mark. Thank you for answering the questions and for giving us another look at Tubby Hayes and The Life Behind The Tenor. It is a fine piece of work, that would have had Tubby grinning from ear to ear with that big smile he had.

For more info about Tubby Hayes and purchasing a copy of this limited edition book go to

www.monomediafilms.co.uk

 

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Read 1323 times Last modified on Wednesday, 01 April 2020 13:21
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