Following the discovery of some long-rumored studio master tapes, Decca Records releases a never-before-issued 1969 album by leading British jazz artist Tubby Hayes entitled Grits, Beans And Greens: The Lost Fontana Studio Sessions 1969.
Tubby Hayes is undoubtedly one of the most important, influential and ground-breaking UK jazz musicians of all time. During the '50s and early '60s, Hayes had stood apart from many of his UK-based contemporaries, displaying a self-confidence and virtuoso musical delivery that placed him neck-and-neck with many of the leading American jazzmen of the day. He worked with the likes of Quincy Jones, Ella Fitzgerald, Charles Mingus and Duke Ellington and his many fans included Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley and Sonny Rollins. He had his own primetime TV show and was the face of UK jazz.
Thought to be lost until their recent rediscovery, the sessions are being hailed as among the very best work in the Hayes discography. "Sometimes when tapes than have been lost or rumoured to exist finally surface there is a touch of anti-climax or the need to 'spin' them in a way that makes them more important than they are," explains Hayes' biographer and award-winning British jazz saxophonist Simon Spillett. "These sessions, on the other hand, are absolute classics in every regard. It's an album that can sit equally alongside the best Coltrane, Rollins or Dexter Gordon LPs. It really is a lost masterpiece, make no mistake."
At the time the 'Grits, Beans and Greens' sessions were recorded, Hayes was also working on a more commercial project, 'The Orchestra', which found him aiming for the pop and easy-listening markets by covering The Beatles, Burt Bacharach and Nancy Sinatra. Ironically, sales of 'The Orchestra' were poor by the standards of his previous albums and as Hayes' health began to falter in the early 1970s, no further recordings took place, leaving the 'Grits, Beans and Greens' reels forgotten and unreleased. After his tragic death following open-heart surgery, aged just 38, in 1973, the tapes were simply filed away, eventually becoming mislaid as the label's archives went through a series of corporate buy-outs.
The recordings have been lovingly remastered at Gearbox Records' Studios, London, directly from the original tapes, using a Studer C37 ¼-inch stereo tape machine. They were then equalised through an all-valve mastering desk built bespoke for Decca studios in the late 1950s, Vintage Lang Pultec EQ, Prism Maselec EQ and Telefunken U73b valve limiters from 1959. The LP format lacquers were cut on a beautifully restored Haeco Scully Lathe from 1967 with Westrex (Western Electric) head and cutting amps: the same go-to lathe that Rudy Van Gelder used.
"Its hard to believe that this music has lain unheard for fifty years, it's so fresh," says Spillett. "There's no doubt in my mind that had they been issued at the time, these recordings would have been seen as Tubby's last great album."
• 180g Vinyl LP
• Never before released
• Mastered directly from the original, perfectly-preserved tapes at Gearbox Studios in London
• Lacquers cut on a beautifully restored Haeco Scully Lathe from 1967 with Westrex head and cutting amps
• Made in Germany
Tubby Hayes, tenor sax
Mike Pyne, piano
Ron Mathewson, bass
Spike Wells, drums
1. For Members Only (Take 2)
2. Grits, Beans And Greens (Take 4)
3. Rumpus (Take 1)
1. You Know I Care (Take 2)
2. Where Am I Going (Take 3)
Recorded: Philips Studios, Stanhope Place, London, Tuesday June 24th, 1969 - 10.30am 1.30pm