Several Men in a Hurry

Last night was the official launch of 'A Man in a Hurry', the documentary and musical celebration of Tubby Hayes.


Sax player extraordinaire Tubby Hayes lived and performed through the heyday of British jazz in the 1950s. Indeed, he probably was one of the greatest exponents of the jazz of London in the run-up to the pop explosion of the 1960s.

If Tubby had a passion for jazz, then film-makers Mark Baxter and Lee Cogswell have finally realised their own passion of documenting his life and music. They haven't really been in a hurry - this project has been years in the making, but the momentum is definitely building.

I must declare an interest - I make a few tiny appearances in the film. My interest in Tubby's playing started many years ago and I knew I'd never get close. Not even in the same city, let alone the same ball park. He was a jazz genius and, although his weapon of choice was tenor sax, his flute and vibes playing was similarly moving.

But I've never seen so much footage of Tubby before. Nor heard the whole story, much of it from proper sax player and the man's biographer, Simon Spillett.

This was my second chance to watch the film, having already seen the DVD, and it was definitely an improvement to see it on the big screen, among friends, musicians and music lovers.

The launch was preceded by Simon's quartet - including John Critchinson, Alec Dankworth and Spike Wells - playing a blinding set of Tubby tunes. My favourite was The Serpent, with a tiny hint of Coltrane's My Favourite Things slipped in by Spillett. One of the things about Tubby's compositions was their references to people around him and this quartet of jazz masters did them proud. The speed alone of some of these tracks is mind-blowing. Men in a hurry.

A great evening and this is a documentary that even non jazz-lovers will enjoy. A sad story of a man taken far too young but who achieved so much. If you hate jazz, just let the beautiful music wash over you and don't try to understand it. Few of us can.