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Humphrey Lyttelton and his Band – Classic "Live" Concerts
rec. live, Conway Hall (1951, 1954) and Royal Festival Hall (1954)
LAKE LACD253 [76:12 + 61:36]


 

Texas Moaner
Coal Black Shine
Last Smile Blues
Elephant Stomp
Wally Plays The Blues
My Bucket's Got A Hole In It
I Double Dare You
That's The Blues, Old Man
Feline Stomp
St. James' Infirmary Blues
Memphis Shake
Mo Pas Lemmé Ça
Introductory Blues
High Society
South Side Stomp
Basin Street Blues
I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate
Trog's Blues
The Onions
When The Saints Go Marching In
I Love Paris
See See Rider
The Old Grey Mare
New Orleans Stomp
Out Of The Gallion
The Onions
Jelly Roll Blues
Red For Piccadilly
Steppin' On The Blues
Randolph Turpin Stomp
Nothin' But Trouble
The Next Number
Big Cat, Little Cat
Canal Street Blues
Mezz's Tune
Jelly Bean Blues
Ace In The Hole
Coffee Grinder
Mainly Traditional
Oh, Dad!

 

The 1954 Conway Hall concert is a Humph classic, the product of controlled ebullience and vibrant musicianship allied to clever tune selection and a soupçon of crowd participation. And then there are Lyttelton’s droll song announcements, which can do no harm. The result is a twelve song recital, drivingly performed and of lasting value. Bruce Turner was on board at the time and with Johnny Parker he takes the honours in Coal Black Shine – though the powerful jet of Humph’s trumpet and Wally Fawkes’s slightly off-mike polyphony are richly enjoyable in their own right. The blues tracks have particular strength. For some reason Humph always referred to Ida Cox’s Last Mile Blues as the less probable Last Smile Blues – unless he knew something we don’t, as the song is always credited to the former title. Fawkes is again prominent and superb and the Conway Hall "ashtray" – a mute – can be heard in Lyttelton’s solo. My Bucket's Got A Hole In It generates a righteous groove with the band locked into a powerfully rhythmic direction. There’s a freedom and a command in this live concert that still resonates over fifty years on.

The other Conway Hall concert dates from 1951. It has a Lyttelton-Fawkes front line – Humph plays clarinet on a couple of tracks to add variety. His own tune Red for Piccadilly is deep in New Orleans revivalist territory; in fact the two sound as close to Bunk Johnson and George Lewis as I’ve ever heard them and as close as I suspect they ever came to that sound. The rhythm section is much heavier than is ideal – and successive groups lightened that aspect of the Lyttelton band sound to considerable advantage. There’s a Wagnerian side to the ’51 band that fortunately didn’t long survive. But there’s some first class boogie from Johnny Parker on Big Cat, Little Cat and finally a more relaxed rhythmic sound emerges in the front line’s playing of The Next Number.

The third live concert comes from the Royal Festival Hall in 1954. Trombonist John Picard is on board – young he may have been but his confidence and strength are palpable. He takes a laid back, lazily phrased solo on Basin Street Blues that may have had Teagarden as a rhythmic role model but sounds individual, tonally and expressively. The band mines hard driving black Chicago style for South Side Stomp – Jimmy Blythe’s influence pervasive here - and the barrelhouse atmosphere is powerful indeed.

As a bonus there are six studio tracks. The most interesting have George Chisholm on hand, and his presence is a fillip.

If you’re a Lyttelton collector who has somehow neglected to add the ’54 Conway Hall concert to your collection here’s your chance – you’ll get two other live concerts and some studio tracks as well. The two CDs are priced as one – a further inducement to purchase.

Jonathan Woolf

 



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