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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove



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Humphrey Lyttelton

Humph Experiments

rec. 1951-53
LAKE LACD 266 [75:53]

 

 



Take A Note From The South
Open House
Apples Be Ripe
Midnight Creep
Small Hour Fantasy
Friendless Blues
Original Jelly Roll Blues (version 1)
Fat Tuesday
Mam’selle Josephine (version 1)
Original Jelly Roll Blues (version 2)
King Porter Stomp
London Blues
Mike’s Tangana
Muskrat Ramble Mam’selle Josephine (version 2)
Hoppin’ Mad
Don’t Monkey With It
Forgotten Woman’s Blues
Sweet Muscatel
Get It
Stay With It
Ugly Duckling
Hook, Line & Sinker
Backroom Joys
Hullo Jim Eadie
Turn Up A Card.

 

The Bell-Lyttelton Jazz Nine; The Bell-Lyttelton Jazz Twelve; The Bell-Lyttelton Jazz Ten; The Grant-Lyttelton Paseo Jazz Band; The Lyttelton Paseo Jazz Band; Humphrey Lyttelton & His Band with Ade Monsbourgh; Lazy Ade’s Late Hour Boys with Humphrey Lyttelton; Lazy Ade’s Late Hour Boys

 

 

Lyttelton admirers will rejoice to see this collection. It consists of his early 1950s recordings with a variety of bands. The title of the disc is derived from a chapter in his autobiography and adeptly sums up what’s on offer.

We happen to open with one of the best. Take A Note From The South was a Graeme Bell tune and featured a meeting of Lytteltonians and Bellites in Anglo-Australian alliance. It’s a great song with a relaxed yet driving beat, fine ensemble work and first class solos all round. Bell’s instrumental voicings in Apples Be Ripe – in terms of the title presumably a close relation of that more recent Kenny Davern-Bob Wilber paean to alcohol, The Grapes Are Ready – are masterly. The Ellingtonian clarinet trio is evoked with precision, with Humph playing clarinet, as he was wont to do from time to time. The ‘baroque’ front line ensemble figures prefigure what Humph was to do with his much later bands and the Cubano/Mexican trumpet adds to the colour, along with the down home Chicago drive. It’s a packed tune, filled with the seedbed of much experimentation to come. One wonders yet again what would have happened had, say, Ade Monsbourgh joined Humph’s band as he was invited to do.

The tracks contain plenty of colours; a celeste - jazzers never call it a celesta - and  two trumpet front line on Midnight Creep – the other player was Johnny Sangster. Wally Fawkes blows a passionate Bechet tribute in Small Hour Fantasy whilst Teddy Wilson has inspired Mike Mckenzie when he and a powerful West Indian contingent join Humph for a famous series of sides. The Grant-Lyttelton Paseo Jazz Band is best heard in small doses I always feel. In bulk the sides can pall but heard in isolation they show just how discriminating Humph was, how alive to other rhythms, other sounds. There are two different versions of a couple of the songs – and I always feel that fine though these sides are, a little of Leslie Weeks’s bongos go a long way. It’s the glorious Benny Carter inspired Bertie King who steals the honours, especially on Mike’s Tangana.

When Humph and Lazy Ade recorded again South Side Chicago was explored – plenty of Jimmy Blythe’s ghost haunts these tracks with Ade’s hoarse hectoring alto to the fore. Don’t Monkey With It is simply one of my favourite tracks. Again we hear rare things; Fawkes on bass clarinet on Sweet Muscatel and the brass bass of Lou Silbereisen on Turn Up A Card, as well as the Doc Poston-Jimmy Noone evocation on Hullo Jim Eadie – these two last tracks by the way are bonus tracks by Lazy Ade’s Late Hour Boys. 

Fantastic stuff here from some great bands. The sides have been expertly transferred and annotated. If you buy one Humph disc this year to remember him by, make sure it’s this one.

 

Jonathan Woolf



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