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



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HUMPHREY LYTTELTON
And Friends

Forum FRC 6130

 

 



 
Humphrey Lyttelton Band

1. In Swinger
2. Toot'n in Kamen
3. Talk Of The Town
4. One for Buck
5. Harry Looyah
6. St Louis Blues
7. The New Bad Penny Blues
8. Georgia Man
Terry Lightfoot Band

9. Barnyard Blues

10. Happy Bird Shuffle
11. Twelfth Street Rag
12. Sentimental Journey
13. Dippermouth Blues

14. That's a Plenty

 

When Humphrey Lyttelton died earlier this year, many of the obituaries concentrated on his chairing of the BBC comedy panel game I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. Humph certainly showed his comic timing on this long-running show, but jazz fans remember him more as the trumpet-playing leader of his own jazz group for many years and as the presenter of The Best of Jazz on the BBC's Radio 2. Humph's band and radio programme must have introduced many people to jazz, and he is rightly celebrated for his contribution to the music.

The Lyttelton band tracks on this budget-priced CD were recorded in 1974, when the band's personnel probably included altoist Bruce Turner, saxist Kathy Stobart, pianist Mick Pyne and bassist Dave Green - although the sleeve-note regrettably lists no personnel details. Humphrey Lyttelton started his career as a jazz musician playing revivalist jazz but by this time his band was a mainstream unit. My father used to say that Humph's playing worked its way through jazz history, as he developed from revivalist through trad to mainstream and even hints of modern jazz.

Humph's band at this period sounded very like the small mainstream groups which Humph admired, with well-crafted arrangements enclosing adventurous solos. Lyttelton wasn't the world's greatest trumpeter (although his idol, Louis Armstrong, called him "Britain's top trumpet man") but he played with fair technique and sincere enthusiasm - and he had a talent for picking excellent musicians for his bands.

Lyttelton was not only a good trumpeter and bandleader: he was also a worthwhile composer, and he wrote five of the eight tunes on this album, including The New Bad Penny Blues - which followed his only chart hit, Bad Penny Blues from 1954 - and which is almost indistinguishable from the earlier tune.

The album cover may give the impression that Humph's group is playing with Terry Lightfoot's band, but the latter is heard in six separate tracks, presumably included to bulk out the album. The Lightfoot tracks were recorded in 1976 - some years after he became famous as part of the Trad Boom of the late fifties and early sixties. Clarinettist Terry Lightfoot had formed his first band in 1955 but left the music business for periods to be a pub landlord, although he kept returning with new groups playing in trad style.

The Lightfoot tracks are very much in that trad mode, including old warhorses like Dippermouth Blues and That's a Plenty. But there is also an attractive feature written for Terry's own clarinet: Happy Bird Shuffle, as well as a gently loping Sentimental Journey.

At budget price, this CD provides a timely tribute to Humphrey Lyttelton. Incidentally, the tracks are listed in the right order on the inner sleeve but in the wrong order on the rear sleeve.

Tony Augarde


 

 

 

 



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