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Celebrating The Jazz Couriers
Winner of the
Hamlet British Jazz Awards 2002
Best Small Group

Link to Couriers Website

Celebrating The Jazz Couriers
Left to Right: Mornington, Andy, Nigel, Steve, Martin


The idea of featuring the music of the late, great, saxophone virtuosos, Tubby Hayes and Ronnie Scott, came in a long, ‘after gig’, conversation between Mornington Lockett and Martin Drew, who both played with Ronnie.  Mornington suggested putting a band together to play the music of The Jazz Couriers.

It seemed a terrific idea, which has proved itself.  Mornington suggested Nigel Hitchcock, a phenomenal saxophone player, to share the front line duties with him, a very daunting task, considering they were inviting comparison with two of the world’s greatest saxophone players.  However, Mornington and Nigel, both being fantastic players, have very seldom been known to shirk a challenge, so that was the front line!

The rhythm section was discussed at length, to get a team that could keep up with the front line!  Steve Melling on piano immediately came to mind, as did Andy Cleyndert on double bass.  With Martin on drums, it was figured that this would be the optimum line-up to play this music.

All the guys were also crazy enough to want to play at some of the tempos that would be required, together with the intensity that the music demanded!  Musical integrity was and still is paramount in a project like this, and comes before all else.  It was decided that without the right guys, this band would not happen.  It would be fantastic if the group received commercial recognition, which it did, but unless it could take off musically first, forget it!  This music is not for the faint hearted!

It must be pointed out that in no way did the group try to compare themselves with the original Jazz Couriers.  There will never be two other saxophone players who played or sounded like Ronnie and Tubby.  The object was to play some scintillating jazz music, such as has rarely been heard here, in the UK, since the old Couriers.  Ronnie and Tubby never ‘took any prisoners’, as the expression goes, and neither did Mornington, Nigel, and the rhythm section!

This project was of labour of love, played by musicians who understood the challenge, and had immense respect for both Ronnie Scott and Tubby Hayes.  There was, and still is, a large audience of people and musicians who are very familiar with the original Couriers and, thankfully, they showed tremendous enthusiasm for this band.  Winning the "Small Group" section of the Hamlet British Jazz Awards 2002 further recognised how dynamic and exciting Celebrating The New Couriers were.

It was and is still hoped that the recreated sounds of  the original Couriers will inspire musicians to play more of this type of music.  However, this can be quite daunting when the realisation dawns of what is required from the musicians involved in a group such as this, in order to play in this style.  All the guys had, and still have, the commitment, dedication, and respect for Ronnie and Tubby, as well as the considerable technical ability required.  Nothing less would do!

And

  

Since the Volume 1 CD, this band has performed to audiences everywhere, at festivals and clubs, etc.  The Volume 2 CD underlines the excitement, virtuosity, and cohesiveness of "Celebrating The Jazz Couriers".  The spirit and "feelgood" factor of the live performance, like the first CD, is captured here in abundance, proving that this band has become one of the great jazz groups, and a worthy tribute to the original Jazz Couriers, led by Tubby Hayes and Ronnie Scott.  The title of this CD, "Through The Night Roared The Overland Express, The Bridge Was Out, A Madman At The Wheel," was written by Ronnie Scott himself.  This CD was recorded over two nights (19/20 July 2002), at The Fleece, Boxford, East Anglia's best known jazz venue.  The "Jazz At The Fleece" Organisation has been presenting jazz every Friday at this beautiful timbered pub in a medieval village in Suffolk, since March 1993, and is a favourite gig of all musicians, particularly "Celebrating The Jazz Couriers".  One of the most vital features of this terrific club, is a fantastic audience, who are enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and extremely appreciative of all the groups performing at the Fleece.  The voluntary committee who run the club were all extremely excited to have this CD recorded there, and the whole band offer a huge thank you to the committee for all its help involved with the production of this CD.

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