Formed in the UK in 1957, the Jazz Couriers were an outstanding hard bop band. They developed a vibrant attacking style that provided a base for fine solo playing by its two co-founders, tenor saxophonists Tubby Hayes (b. Edward Brian Hayes, 30 January 1935, London, England, d. 8 June 1973, London, England) and Ronnie Scott (b. Ronald Schatt, 28 January 1927, London, England, d. 23 December 1996, London, England). The ensemble was enhanced by Hayes’ alternative instrument, the vibraphone, which created a distinctive sound that effectively distanced the group from that of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, to which it owed a passing nod of acknowledgement. The music played, ensemble and solo, was of extraordinarily high quality and, not surprisingly, the Couriers were an influential presence on the UK jazz scene.
The Jazz Couriers played their first gig in London on 7 April 1957. At the time of the band’s 1957 debut release the personnel was Scott, Hayes, Jimmy Deuchar (trumpet), Terry Shannon (piano), Phil Bates (bass), and Bill Eyden (drums). Personnel variations included the omission of Deuchar on some dates and bass player Kenny Napper and drummer Phil Seamen replacing Bates and Eyden. The band played its last engagement in Cork, Eire in August 1959. Fortunately, recordings by the Jazz Couriers have been reissued and it is possible now to understand why this short-lived band was so highly regarded.