Clancy Hayes was a unique figure in jazz history, one of its first singer/songwriters and an underrated and versatile musician. He was part of the Lu Watters band mostly as a banjoist, recording as a singer with the band during 1949-50. He gained fame for his singing with Bob Scobey’s groups of the 1950s but also freelanced and could often be heard as a solo performer.
Satchel Of Song is a fascinating release that features Hayes in several different settings that span most of his career, covering 1939-72. He sings and plays guitar on four numbers from 1946-48, sometimes unaccompanied as on “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” and also with a heated combo. Hayes plays washboard with the Bay City Boys on “Kansas City Stomps” and “Wolverine Blues” from the mid-1940s, and is heard as an unaccompanied singer-banjoist during intermissions at Turk Murphy’s Earthquake McGoon’s in the mid-1960s.
Five numbers from 1939 are taken from the radio show Tune Termites in which Hayes (singing and playing drums) performs five numbers in a duet with pianist Glen Hurlburt. The program was a bit of a novelty in that all of the dialogue between songs was spoken in rhymes. In addition, Hayes is heard on seven numbers including two effective and touching piano solos from 1971-72 at home.
That’s right, along the way Clancy Hayes is heard on banjo, guitar, piano, washboard and drums. But most significant is his warm singing (he was one of the very best vocalists to be heard with trad bands of the 1950’s and ‘60s) and as a songwriter who composed 12 of the often-witty songs on this entertaining CD.
Clancy Hayes Private Collection 1939-72 (San Francisco Traditional Jazz Foundation SFTJF 108, 25 selections, TT = 68:00)