Celebrating The Jazz Couriers

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Evening Standard Metro Life 2nd CD

Jazz UK 2001

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Music on the Web (UK) 2nd CD

The Musician 2002

Evening Standard

The Guardian (Gig)

Jazz UK 2002

Jazz Journal

Jazzwise Magazine

Music on the Web (UK) 1st CD


The Observer

The Argus. Brighton

The Musician 2003

The Jazz Rag 2002 (1)

The Jazz Rag 2002 (2)

The Jazz Rag (3)

The Gordon Arms, Bedford

The Rhythm Station, Rawtenstall

Evening Standard Metro Life  7 February 2003





Through The Night

Trio Records TR 561

Evening Standard Metro Life

Second incarnation of drummer Martin Drew's and saxophonist Mornington Lockett's revisit to the frenetic music of the Ronnie Scott/Tubby Hayes Jazz Couriers of the late 1950s.  This is a live set from Suffolk's Boxford Fleece, and features the usual headlong Couriers' themes, including their breakneck version of 'Cheek to Cheek'.  Great effusively roaring sound from the two sax front line (Nigel Hitchcock plays the Hayes role), and catchy themes from the original leaders plus tunes from Clark Terry, Cole Porter and Clifford Brown's 'Blues Walk'.


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Celebrating the Jazz Couriers Vol 2

Through The Night.......

John Fordham

Friday December 6, 2002

The Guardian

When I first heard a recording of the Ronnie Scott / Tubby Hayes Jazz Couriers playing their throttle-on-the-floor up tempo version of Cheek to Cheek, I recall writing something to the effect that the only way the physical contact of the title would be sustainable at this speed might be if superglue were involved. A remake of that track, in the same runaway-vehicle spirit, opens the second album celebrating the memory of the Couriers, the elite late-1950s bop ensemble on an otherwise frequently subdued British modern jazz scene at the time.

The late Scott's exciting former drummer Martin Drew and saxophonist / arranger Mornington Lockett put this tribute band together, and this is a flying live set from Norfolk's Boxford Fleece. There's perhaps a sameness in the urbane swerves, neat turns, slickly talkative harmonies and rattling drumbeat phrasing in the Couriers' themes, and the unquenchable urge to play flat out, but the solos (mostly from Lockett, fellow sax-sprinter Nigel Hitchcock and pianist Steve Melling) are full-on, if a shade inexorable, the two-sax front line emits an attractively tough-talking vitality, and it's easy to hear why this lively outfit has been such a hit around the UK circuit. A sleazy Clark Terry blues swinger, a frantic Cole Porter (What Is This Thing Called Love) and Clifford Brown's fast-moving, riffy Blues Walk adds hard-boppish material to the Hayes/Scott originals. However, ECM Records designers would probably have needed several hours lying down with wet towels pressed to their foreheads just from looking at the Punch-style caricatures on the artwork.

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Music On The Web (UK)  25 November 2002

Celebrating The Jazz Couriers. Volume 2

THROUGH THE NIGHT.......Roared The Overland Express, The Bridge Was Out, A Madman At The Wheel.

1. Cheek to Cheek             2. The Serpent            3. Through The Night           4. This is All I Ask

5. Pint of Bitter                    6. What is This Thing Called Love?          7. Blues Walk

Celebrating the Jazz Couriers is now firmly established on the scene, and has been heard all over the country.  They obviously enjoy the live performance as this disc amply demonstrates; it was recorded at The Fleece in Boxford, East Anglia.  The cover design by Jack Pennington compliments this excellent second album by the band; Ronnie Scott is caricatured driving the Overland Express with Tubby in the tender, and the New Couriers hanging on for dear life in the trucks behind!

One of the things that made the original band so fascinating was the empathy between Tubby and Ronnie at the front of the band, which Mornington and Martin have carried on.  That does not stop them trying to 'blow one another away' at times, but that all adds to the excitement.  The discussions that were held years ago about whether UK rhythm sections swing like their US counterparts, are now safely put to bed, but if any argument remains, this album shows that this rhythm section is as good as anything you will hear anywhere in the world.

Ronnie Scott was not a prolific composer, and it is good that his 'Through the Night' composition is included, as well as 'The Serpent' from Tubby Hayes.

Through the Night is a feature for Mornington Lockett, and This Is All I Ask is a feature for Nigel Hitchcock. They both perform brilliantly and I find it easy to tell them apart even though there is a certain similarity of style.  It is also worth noting that it was Mornington who undertook the major task of copying the original Couriers arrangements from recordings; that in itself must have been a major undertaking.

Cheek to Cheek starts things of at a fast pace with good solos from everyone on this great Irving Berlin standard.  The last time I heard the band they kicked off with this one, and it certainly has everyone on their toes for the rest of the set.

Pint of Bitter comes from Clark Terry, and the two tenors state the tune, followed by one of a number of great solos from pianist Steve Melling on this disc.  Martin Drew and Andrew Cleyndert ensure that this one grooves along from start to finish.  Nigel takes the first tenor solo on this 32 bar 'bluesy' sequence.  It reminded me of the Basie favourite 'Two for the Blues'.

What is This Thing is back to up-tempo, this time Mornington is the first soloist and everyone contributes brilliantly.  The rhythm section make playing at this sort of tempo sound easy, which of course it isn't, and the two tenors demonstrate why they are both held in such high regard.

The last track is Clifford Brown's Blues Walk.   Tubby and Ronnie used this as an end set marker, but here the New Couriers give us a full and exciting version.

The overriding impression you get from this disc is of something which everybody enjoyed, musicians and audience alike, and it doesn't get much better than that!

Don Mather

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Evening Standard 3 October 2001

Ronnie revivalists


Pizza Express, Dean Street, W1

Jack Massarik

DRUMMER Martin Drew, who worked with Ronnie Scott for nearly 20 years, is ideally equipped to recreate the sounds of Scott's most successful group, the Jazz Couriers.  Formed in the late Fifties, this early superband was co-led by Scott and Tubby Hayes, then Britain's tenor-sax kings.  Their rivalry kept creative sparks flying, and their recordings became classics.  Recently Drew met tenorist Mornington Lockett, who had also toured with Scott.  "Why don't we put a quintet together to play that music?" he suggested.  How well they have succeeded.  It was a pleasure last night to hear Lockett and Nigel Hitchcock trading choruses and burning through the Couriers' variations on Guys and Dolls, Royal Ascot and If This Isn't Love, close harmonies still hip after all these years.  The band, completed by pianist Steve Melling and bassist Andy Cleyndert, has been working for three months and sounds more exciting every night.  Why they haven't reached Ronnie Scott's club yet is mystifying.

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The Guardian (Gig)

Monday October 1, 2001

Jazz Couriers Tribute

Lauderdale House, London

Dave Brubeck once shared a bill with the original Jazz Couriers.  "They sound more like an American band than we do," he told the Melody Maker.  The Couriers were the cream of a 1950s British modern jazz scene that was mostly in thrall to superior Americans.  The band fronted a then 30-year-old Ronnie Scott and a 22-year-old Tubby Hayes, the only UK saxophonists with reputations in the wider world.  The late Scott's former drummer Martin Drew and saxophonist and arranger Mornington Lockett are touring with a Couriers tribute, and they catch the breathless dynamism that still roars off that group's old records very well.  Lockett, with his high-domed forehead and aquiline features, and his robust, rather school boyish fellow saxophonist Nigel Hitchcock even bear a passing resemblance to the departed co-leaders.  Steve Melling on piano and Andy Cleyndert on bass anchor the harmony and cruise on the swells of Drew's propulsive percussion.  The late Tubby Hayes was a phenomenal technician who was rarely happy playing at less than supersonic speed, and he imparted the same full-on intensity to some excellent arrangements, now triumphantly transcribed by Lockett from the original discs.  Despite the barrage of demisemiquavers, the contrasts between Lockett and Hitchcock, the eager impulsiveness of the pieces, and the relaxed precision of the rhythm section emit a good deal of magnetism; and they capture much of the swagger of the young, brash virtuosi who first stoked it up.  Like Hayes, Hitchcock can play so fast the phrases become a blur, and Lockett imparted a little more contrast and narrative to solos, What Is This Thing Called Love? deftly balanced bop and a dancing swing; A Foggy Day had a vivacious unison theme phrased like a bop improvisation; and Hayes's arrangement of Cheek to Cheek invited the saxes to echo each other in the theme before skimming through so fast that dancing cheek to cheek at such velocity would tax even circus acrobats.  A lively, fascinating reminder of a big step in British jazz's slow march toward respect.

John Fordham 

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Jazz UK. 17 October 2001

Scene & Heard


If Theo Travis tipped a hat to the memory of Tubby Hayes, drummer Martin Drew's Tribute to the Jazz Couriers group was throwing one high into the air.  The band has been taking the eager, steaming two-sax arrangements of the classic Ronnie Scott/Tubby Hayes partnership around the country, and Mornington Lockett (who also transcribed the arrangements off the original discs) and Nigel Hitchcock are different enough in style to make the solos continually absorbing.  The Couriers liked to do everything as if they were late for an appointment, but occasionally the tempo did ease back, to reveal a mellow lyricism from the saxophonists, from pianist Steve Melling, and bassist Andy Cleyndert.  Martin Drew kept everything at boiling point, and threw in some hilarious announcements worthy of Ronnie Scott himself.

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Jazz Journal. November 2001

celebrating the jazz couriers


Autumn Leaves; A Foggy Day; Guys And Dolls; Yesterdays; Royal Ascot; If this Isn't Love (73.25)
Mornington Lockett, Nigel Hitchcock (ts); Steve Melling (p); Andrew Cleyndert (b); Martin Drew (d). Welwyn Garden City and Northampton, January 28 and 29, 2001.

(Trio Records 00556)
This is a superb album by two world class tenor soloists who are part of a hard swinging tradition that includes people like Pete Christliob, Johnny Griffin, Eddie Davis, Dexter Gordon, and Gene Ammons.  Their powerful, emotionally charged playing on this live CD grabs the attention from the opening bars of Autumn Leaves and the pace never really lets up until the expertly played coda of This Isn't Love, leaving the audience but certainly not the players, a little breathless.  As there are no Courier charts available, Mornington Lockett has transcribed Tubby Hayes's neat arrangements from the records achieving a sound remarkably close to the original.  Hayes and Ronnie Scott could generate excitement out of even the most unusual material and Guys And Dolls and This Isn't Love are both good examples.  Here, Lockett and Nigel Hitchcock stand toe to toe through chorus after chorus of inspired blowing creating a feel-good atmosphere that is totally infectious.  Steve Melling deserves special mention because with heavyweight, extrovert players like these, piano solos can sometimes be anti-climactic but he more than holds his own in this heady atmosphere and is especially inspired on a dramatic Foggy Day.  This was one of the Couriers most popular arrangements and is taken at an unusually slow tempo.  After the tenors doff their cap to the master by playing Hayes's original solo from his 1957 recording in unison, Melling takes centre stage for three inventive choruses, the last being a beautifully voiced two-handed statement straight out of the Red Garland school of swinging excellence.  The sleeve note does not indicate the solo order but Lockett leads off on everything except Yesterdays and This Isn't Love, where Hitchcock solos first.  Playing this material was clearly a labour of love for all concerned and this is another release that will surely figure in the Jazz Record of The Year poll.

Gordon Jack

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Jazzwise Magazine. November 2001

Celebrating The Jazz Couriers

Trio Records TR 00556


Back in the late 50s, The Jazz Couriers – co-led by Tubby Hayes and Ronnie Scott – were the very best band in Britain.  They made their debut at Wardour Street's Flamingo Club in April 57 and 'the death' came two-and-a-half years later at the end of August 59, at an unpublicised (and, sadly, not well attended) concert in Cork.  They made four albums altogether (two are on Hayes CDs via Jasmine) including a 'live' date at the Dominion, Tottenham Court Road opposite Dave Brubeck and a separate session for the American label, Carlton Records, which was recently re-released on Fresh Sound as The Couriers of Jazz.  This probably contained their best recorded efforts and is well worth seeking out.  This writer was fortunate enough to produce all four albums, hence my eagerness to hear what drummer Martin Drew has come up with 44 years on.  He's put together a brilliant band comprising Mornington Lockett and Nigel Hitchcock on tenors, Steve Melling on piano and Andy Cleyndert (bass).  Lockett has taken down the Couriers' charts from the original records, but this is by no means a conventional 'tribute' group.  The two tenors use the scores as take-off points for some absolutely superb contemporary-feel jazz and, if Tempo was still active, they'd have been signed instantly!  This first, self financed, immensely enjoyable release, recorded at the Herts. and Derby Jazz Clubs in January, features lengthy, booting, inspired performances of Hayes arrangements, mainly taken from the Couriers final album, including 'If This Isn't Love' (a particularly interesting score), 'A Foggy Day', 'Yesterdays' (Tubbs début on flute, incidentally), the suspensionful 'Royal Ascot' and, from the live album, 'Guys and Dolls'.  The opening 'Autumn Leaves' celebrates everything the original band ever stood for.  The rhythm section (like its Terry Shannon/Jeff Clyne/Bill Eyden predecessor) never stops swinging throughout.  This was January.  They played at the Pizza Express recently.  It was better still.  This could be the most exciting British band since.........well, since The Jazz Couriers!  Please support it.

Tony Hall

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Music on the Web (UK) December 2001

Celebrating the Jazz Couriers  Volume 1
Trio Records TR 00556
Autumn Leaves : A Foggy Day : Guys and Dolls : Yesterdays : Royal Ascot : If This Isn't Love

Martin Drew-Drums  / Nigel Hitchcock-Tenor  / Mornington Lockett-Tenor  / Steve Melling-Piano  / Andrew Cleyndert-Bass

For those who don't know about them, the original Jazz Couriers were a band fronted by Ronnie Scott and Tubby Hayes, which did its first gig at The Flamingo Club in London on April 7th, 1957.  It was probably the finest Jazz Quintet around at the time and they did gigs all over the UK, some of them on a tour with the Dave Brubeck Quartet.  I heard both bands at the Coventry Theatre and what a night that was, it is sad to think that neither Ronnie nor Tubby or Paul Desmond are with us, for that matter neither is the Coventry Theatre.  The Couriers were enormously popular, even though the band was only together for two years; everyone who was around at the time fondly remembers them.  Fortunately, they recorded a lot of the arrangements that Tubby wrote for the band, and so at least something was preserved for posterity!  The Couriers played their final gig in Cork, Ireland in August of 1959.

The idea of the New Jazz Couriers came out of a post gig conversation between Mornington Lockett and Martin Drew.  Unfortunately, no-one knew of the whereabouts of Tubby's arrangements for the band and Mornington agreed to carry out the monumental task of copying the arrangements from the records.  He has made a great job of it and they are instantly recognisable.

Whilst the arrangements are the ones that Tubby wrote and Mornington copied, after the written parts, it is pure New Jazz Couriers, and the whole band have the opportunity to express themselves.  The tunes are well known, apart from Royal Ascot, which is a Tubby Hayes original with a strong melody line.
Do not mistake this as being a throwback band.  Tubby was many years ahead of his time, which is proved by how fresh his arrangements and compositions sound today.
The New Jazz Couriers are entirely worthy of the name.
Don Mather

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December 2001 BOZ

Celebrating the Jazz Couriers

(Trio TR00556)

If you were at Dean Street Pizza Express (or any of the venues during their October 'world tour', you'll have heard the most exciting band in Britain today.  Just as the group whose music they're 'celebrating' was some 44 years ago.  Playing the old Tubby Hayes – Ronnie Scott scores, today tenorists Mornington Lockett and Nigel Hitchcock are very much their own men in their lengthy solo outings on Couriers' classics like 'Guys and Dolls', 'Royal Ascot', 'Autumn Leaves', 'A Foggy Day', 'Yesterdays' and 'If This Isn't Love'.  Supporting the saxists is a magnificent, constantly inspiring section comprising Steve Melling, Andy Cleyndert and the irrepressible Martin Drew.  They financed this 'live' date themselves.  It's arguably the most enjoyable album of the year.

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The Observer 27th January 2002

Celebrating The Jazz Couriers

(Trio TR 00556)

The Jazz Couriers was the quintet co-led in the 1950s by Ronnie Scott and Tubby Hayes, still remembered as a high-water mark of British jazz.  It was renowned not only for the virtuoso tenor saxophone playing of its leaders, but also for its witty arrangements.  To recreate the original Couriers would be impossible, but to get two contemporary virtuosi to do their stuff within the original arrangements turned out to be a very good idea.  The two are Nigel Hitchcock and Mornington Lockett, neither of whom sounds remotely like either Ronnie or Tubby, but they generate a comparable excitement.  The rhythm section of Steve Melling, Andrew Cleyndert and Martin Drew is at least as good as the Fifties original.


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The Argus. Friday, February 8, 2002
Let's get the party started!

TONIGHT, drumming phenomenon and bandleader, Martin Drew, gets the ball rolling for the new Brighton Jazz Club, now at the Sussex Arts Club.  It would be easier to note the musicians Martin hasn't played with over the years.  There's no-one out there who can match a track record featuring artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Stanley Turrentine, Oscar Peterson, Nina Simone, Freddie Hubbard, Count Basie, Chet Baker, Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, Jimmy Smith, Gil Evans, Johnny Griffin, J J Johnson, Anita O'Day, Lee Konitz, and the Brecker Brothers, to name a few.  He also spent years in Ronnie Scott's bands, and his new outfit celebrates the pioneering Jazz Couriers, where Scott partnered fellow tenor titan, Tubby Hayes.
Filling their shoes are two of the strongest sax soloists to be found on any stage.  Mornington Lockett spent several years playing with Cuban trumpet supremo, Arturo Sandoval, and was recently a member of organ legend Jimmy Smith's band.  Currently working with Stan and Clark Tracey in a number of groups, Lockett has played sessions for INXS, Ryuichi Sakamoto, World Party, and many others.
Likely to match him in a classic tenor duel is the prodigiously talented Nigel Hitchcock, who has gigged with James Brown and Bjork.
Performing with them will be occasional Georgie Fame and Van Morrison pianist, Robin Aspland, and bassist Paul Morgan, another former Scott associate, who has gigged with classic performers such as Zoot Sims and Peggy Lee.

John Styles

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The Musician March 2002

Celebrating The Jazz Couriers
Martin Drew, etc.
Trio TR00556

Jazz is a lot about excitement, and one of the most exciting British bands was the Jazz Couriers, fronted by the duelling tenors of Ronnie Scott and Tubby Hayes.  On this CD, Martin Drew and his chums revive the 'Couriers' music, although the sleeve says, "in no way is the group trying to compare themselves with the original Jazz Couriers".  However, the album title invites comparisons, and tenorists Nigel Hitchcock and Mornington Lockett certainly capture that old dynamism.  Lockett transcribed six Couriers arrangements from the original records, and bassist Andy Cleyndert recorded the material at two live gigs.  Martin's drumming is as punchy as ever (though perhaps too far in the background) and the rhythm section is dependently completed by Steve Melling and Andy Cleyndert.  The only pity is that the sleeve fails to identify the order of the tenorists solos.

Tony Augarde

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The Jazz Rag 2002 (1)

Volume 1
Trio Records TR 00556 (73:25)

This band features the twin tenor saxes of Nigel Hitchcock and Mornington Lockett plus Steve Melling on piano, Andy Cleyndert on bass and Martin Drew on drums. From the sleeve notes, it looks like they may be aiming to call themselves The New Couriers, but for now they are Celebrating The Jazz Couriers. They are able to do this thanks to sterling work by Lockett, who transcribed the arrangements of the six pieces here from Jazz Couriers' records. The album was recorded at two live gigs in January 2001, and successfully replicates all the energy and drive of the original Couriers albums. To pay tribute to Tubby Hayes and Ronnie Scott is a daunting task, given their virtuosity and passion plus the special regard that many jazz fans have for them. Hitchcock and Lockett, who have a certain passing resemblance to Hayes and Scott, prove more than equal to the job, able to match the rapid fire soloing and interplay between the two saxes. And the rhythm section should not be overlooked either; they are the equal of the saxes, swinging madly throughout. Steve Melling is particularly good; witness his solos on Guys And Dolls and Royal Ascot. Currently, the Jazz Couriers own catalogue is criminally thin (notwithstanding a recent release on Jasmine), a situation that desperately needs addressing. This album serves to put the Couriers' music back in the spotlight again, as well as being fine in its own right. Roll on Volume 2.


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The Jazz Rag 2002 (2)

Celebrating The Jazz Couriers
Trio Records TR00556 (73:25)

As the title suggests, and Martin Drew's accompanying note makes clear, this collection, recorded in January 2001, celebrates the spirit, not the letter, of The Jazz Couriers. Formed by two home-grown tenor saxophone titans of international stature, Ronnie Scott and Tubby Hayes, the original quintet, which usually included drummer Phil Seamen, another world-class talent, blew a breath of fresh air into the jazz scene of the late-50s, with its stylish reworkings of quality popular tunes, as well as some originals.
Most readers will be familiar with Martin Drew's distinguished CV, which includes an ongoing association with the Oscar Peterson trio, which stems back to the early 70s, plus a 20 or so year tenure with Ronnie Scott. One of Martin's regular associates, Mornington Lockett, also worked with Ronnie in another two tenors partnership during the early 90s. All things considered, then, there are few other musicians as well qualified to mastermind such a project; fewer still could carry it off so successfully.

Needless to say, the rhythmic foundation here is superb, spearheaded by Martin's propulsive momentum. The drummer, pianist Steve Melling and bassist Andy Cleyndert work as a cohesive unit, which by turns motivates, and is motivated by, the two horns. The other tenor saxophonist, Nigel Hitchcock's slightly more robust and muscular approach makes the perfect foil for Lockett's more intensive, keening edge.
The opener, an upbeat Autumn Leaves , immediately establishes an atmosphere which is sustained and heightened through chorus upon chorus. The rest of the six titles, mainly standards, with one Tubby Hayes original, Royal Ascot, are equally discursive, but the momentum never flags. Apparently, the original Couriers' routines were not written down, but Mornington Lockett has accomplished the
challenging task of transcribing them faithfully, while A Foggy Day, taken at an effective, strolling pace, finds the two tenors playing a transcription of Tubby Hayes' original solo.

Obviously, the tenor men are the main thrust, although there are some generous solo spaces all round. Such is Martin Drew's integral presence, rather like Art Blakey’s, that his contribution becomes more noticeable whenever he drops out. His occasional solo spots are concise, without any concession to self indulgence. The lack of general flag waving is all the more commendable given the context of "live" performances, to audiences in Hertfordshire and Derby.

The quintet is neither a repertory band, nor a nostalgia trip, rather the original Courier’s have provided a blueprint for some highly individual performances. This CD, incidentally, was launched not at Ronnie Scott's Club, but at the nearby Dean Street branch of Pizza Express, during the 2001 Soho Jazz Festival. As this is volume one, sufficient material exists for a sequel. Also, perhaps in the near future, The New Couriers will give an idiomatic slant to other themes, not necessarily connected with The Jazz Couriers The possibilities are there to be explored.


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Celebrating The Jazz Couriers

Saturday 2 November 2002 at The Gordon Arms, Bedford

For two and a half years in the late 1950s, The Jazz Couriers featured various musicians, led by legendary saxophonists, Tubby Hayes and Ronnie Scott.  Listening to them now, they sound somehow 'of their time', perhaps bridging a gap between the 1930s swing band era, and what we understand as contemporary jazz today.

Celebrating The Jazz Couriers probably won't thank me for saying it, but they are the nearest thing I can think of on the jazz scene to the tribute bands that are rife in the worlds of rock and pop.  Then again, I suspect that they wouldn't quibble with the word 'tribute'.  In the best sense of the word, they are paying a tribute to a band that left its mark on jazz history, keeping a legacy alive.

 At The Gordon Arms they recreated the music of the Jazz Couriers, as arranged by Tubby Hayes.  Although, as drummer Martin Drew pointed out in his between-tunes talk, "All the jazz is ours."  The show was neither an attempt at apeing the original band, nor was it a formularised run-through of a 'greatest hits' package.  Rather, the originals formed a basis for inspiration, for fresh and exciting music to be followed intently throughout.

I could describe the music as a kind of crossover between swing and modern jazz.  Reflectiveness was at a premium, coming to the fore in 'This Is All I Ask', a ballad where Nigel Hitchcock took the tenor sax honours to himself - his fellow saxist, Mornington Lockett, sitting this one out.  Very fine it was too, with deep and impassioned playing and sympathetic accompaniment from the rhythm section.  Music to bring on goose bumps, standing in contrast to everything around it.

All the rest of the music created frissons of its own.  'What Is This Thing Called Love?' in contrast to the ballad it followed, kicked along at a fair lick, the saxes playing in unison and propelled along by the rhythm section.  Solos came from saxes and piano, before Mr Drew himself thundered in on the drums.

George Gershwin's 'A Foggy Day In London Town' was another slower number, the theme stated by the twin saxes, then carried along by the rhythm section with piano out front.  It initially had a rather lush sound, a greater clarity coming in the piano section, before Mornington's transcription of Tubby Hayes' original solo brought matters to an end with a surprisingly modern feel.

Although that particular piece wasn't typical of the sound the band created, in some ways it typified the gig.  Very much the feel of a swing band, particularly when the saxes played together, but with a modern take.  At times the numbers seemed almost to fly upwards from the strict time that initially contained them - by contrast, this seemed particularly to happen when one of the saxes launched into a solo.  Two pieces, 'A Pint Of Bitter' (always a great accompaniment to jazz) and 'If This Isn't Love', seemed to combine swing with elements of be-bop and even free jazz.  All of which is perfectly fine by me.  The band created a vibrant sound of their own.  And the acknowledgement of tradition and its re-invention on the hoof is a large part of what makes jazz so damned exciting and enticing.


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Jazz UK  2002

The Rhythm Station, Rawtenstall.  26 November 2002

A superior tribute band, Celebrating The Jazz Couriers demonstrate the resilience of the hard bop pioneered by Ronnie Scott and Tubby Hayes in late 1950s Britain.  At Rawtenstall' s Rhythm Station recently, the Couriers arrangements - painstakingly transcribed by Mornington  Lockett - evoked the exciting period when modern was synonymous with new.  Twin tenors Lockett and Nigel Hitchcock played at breakneck tempi in flawless unison, but individual identities soon emerged.  Reflecting the late Hayes and Scott respectively, Hitchcock was rumbustious, heated, bursting with ideas and energy, whilst Lockett was sleek and wider in emotional range.  The vigour of drummer Drew was a revelation.  A more vibrant outfit than anything that might be termed 'heritage jazz'.

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Evening Standard Metro Life  7 February 2003

CD Choice:  Drew, Lockett, Hitchcock, Melling, Cleyndert
Through The Night..............
Celebrating The Jazz Couriers Volume 2
(Trio Records TR-561)

In the fifties, when Ronnie Scott and Tubby Hayes duelled for the title of Britain's top tenor-sax player, they boldly disbanded their quartets, and together formed the Jazz Couriers - the name an admiring reference to US drummer Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers.

The Courier's co-leaders played at the very top of their game.  Both were in their professional prime, and the sheer gusto of their performances became legendary.  When they died, their brilliant arrangements died with them - until recently, when tenorist Mornington Lockett painstakingly transcribed them from records.  Only then could drummer Martin Drew, using Lockett and Nigel Hitchcock on tenor saxes, pianist Steve Melling and bassist Andrew Cleyndert, put this tribute together.

This CD, a sequel to their debut disc, captures them live at  The Fleece, a thriving jazz club in darkest Boxford, Suffolk.  And live is the way this music was meant to be heard.

Compared to the first album, Lockett and Hitchcock sound better acquainted with the material, and closer to the magic of the original soloists.  Both play with tremendous fluency and drive.  If you can't catch the band at Dean Street next week, give this a listen. 


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The Jazz Rag Reviews Section

On Record
Celebrating The Jazz Couriers Volume 2

Through The Night Roared the Overland Express, The Bridge Was Out, A Madman At The Wheel

Trio Records TR 561 (72:41)

This, the follow-up to the New Couriers first CD, from 2001, also was recorded "live", in this case over two evenings at the noted Suffolk jazz venue, The Fleece at Boxford.

The title, which must qualify as one of the longest in jazz history, has the added distinction of being one of Ronnie Scott's few compositions, previously attributed to the more prolific pen of his Jazz Couriers partner, Tubby Hayes. The eye-catching sleeve design of this CD, from Jack Pennington, resident cartoonist for the Jazz At Ronnie Scott's magazine, depicts Ronnie as the train driver, Tubbs as the fireman, with the New Couriers blowing up a storm in the precariously balanced goods wagons!

Most of the material, including the title track, plus Cheek To Cheek and What Is This Thing Called Love? has Jazz Couriers connections, by being original Courier arrangements, while A Pint Of Bitter was composed by Clark Terry for a 1962 recording date featuring Tubby Hayes. The closing theme, Blues Walk, derived from a Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet session.

As before, the music is inspired by the spirit as well as the letter of the originals, and the exhilarating opener, Cheek To Cheek, - one of The Jazz Couriers most fondly remembered recordings – sets the agenda for some exciting, sometimes electrifying music. As before, pianist Steve Melling, bassist Andrew Cleyndert, and drummer Martin Drew comprise the solid rhythm section. As always, Martin leads from behind, never overwhelming, and confining himself to the occasional, crisp solo. Of the tenor saxophonists, Mornington Lockett, with his crystalline tone and Coltrane-like attack, deftly contrasts with Nigel Hitchcock's richer, more lyrical sound. In addition to their thrust-and-parry duelling, including the audaciously up tempo What Is This Thing Called Love?, the Ronnie Scott's theme is Mornington's special showcase, while Nigel is featured on the Gordon Jenkins ballad, This Is All I Ask, which also highlights the economical piano style of Steve Melling.

If anything, this seven title collection sounds even more impressive than the first, and certainly captures the excitement of the New Couriers in "live" performance. Further information may be obtained by contacting



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The Musician.  March 2003

Through The Night

Celebrating The Jazz Couriers

Trio TR 561

Jazz can be the most exciting music on the planet, and this CD is a lively example of exciting jazz. It uses one of the most time-honoured devices; duelling tenor saxes.

In Through The Night, tenor-saxists Mornington Lockett and Nigel Hitchcock recall the excitement generated by Tubby Hayes and Ronnie Scott in the heyday of the original Jazz Couriers. Recorded on two consecutive nights at The Fleece in Boxford, the album captures the thrill of a live performance, powered by the steaming drums of Martin Drew. Pianist Steve Melling comes across as the most eloquent soloist, while the tenorists compete to see who can squeeze the most notes into every solo.

Tony Augarde