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

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Lake LACD 269

[72:04 + 75:56]



CD 1
  1. Baby Doll
  2. Red Beans & Rice
  3. Early Call
  4. Creole Serenade
  5. Apex Blues
  6. You Brought A New Kind Of Love
  7. I Want A Little Girl
  8. Jersey Lightning
  9. Rockin' Chair
  10. Someone Stole Gabriel's Horn
  11. Just Squeeze Me
  12. Ole Miss
  13. Blues At Dawn
  14. Blues No. 1
  15. O Sole Mio
  16. Gee Baby Ain't I Good To You
  17. Going Out The Back Way
  18. Packet Of Blues
  19. Rain
CD 2
  1. In A Mellotone
  2. Kath Meets Humph
  3. Molten Swing
  4. Buona Sera
  5. Blues In The Afternoon
  6. Hand Me Down Love
  7. Here And Gone
  8. Weary Blues
  9. Trouble In Mind
  10. Irish Black Bottom
  11. Out Of The Gallion
  12. Struttin' With Some Barbeque
  13. In Swinger
  14. Big Bill Blues
  15. Black Beauty
  16. Black And Blue
  17. Unbooted Character
  18. Saturday Jump
  19. The Bear Steps Out
Humphrey Lyttelton and his band
rec. London 1957-58

Presented not-quite-chronologically these two discs (for the price of one) chart Humph's newly established mainstream band as it shed iconoclastic supreme Bruce Turner and took on successively other towering saxophone players to present that formidable reed section. Jimmy Skidmore came first, then variously Tony Coe, Kathy Stobart and Joe Temperley. Pianist Ian Armit, a more modern stylist, replaced the convulsive Johnny Parker. By 1958 things were established. And very fortunately for completists three sides, not released at the time, make an appearance: Blues at Dawn, Blues No.1 and O Sole Mio.

The band's standards were enviably high and with Denis Preston as producer - George Martin no longer taking the role - the band sound was finely captured. Joe Meek had a hand here as well and his echo drenched efforts, not always appreciated by the leader, are also very audible. Red Beans and Rice is Creole hued whilst Turner turns in a typically hard driving Blues chorus on Early Call. Creole Serenade sounds like the kind of thing Humph was doing with his earlier Grant-Lyttelton Paseo band. The old Luis Russell classic Jersey Lightning finds the band sizing up very nicely; the saxes are Skidmore and Coe and the ensemble sound has taken on something of a canonic Lyttelton hue. This is not to say that Humph's excursions were to be curtailed; Chicago South Side, always a profitable musical hunting ground, was visited in Blues at Dawn, a Lyttelton original which also pays due obeisance to Count Basie. The Blues No.1 referred to above is, in effect, a Joe Meek produced Bad Penny Blues da capo, albeit with a funkier twist. Whilst Meek's success in Humph's one big hit can't be denied, elsewhere his arsenal of trickery didn't always pay dividends for the band. Back to business however with Going Out The Back Way in which Coe doffs his cap to the unmistakeable Johnny Hodges.

It was the increasingly interesting arrangements and the swelling of band size, and the opportunities for sax voicings that began to mark out this period of Humph's band - try Packet of Blues to appreciate just the kind of sonority and weight they were beginning to generate. John Picard was, ever, a tower on the trombone and when Kathy Stobart arrived her Buddy Tate leaning qualities drenched the band in Texas blues. Arrangements that provoke include the makeover accorded Weary Blues and the back-to-Louis revamped Irish Black Bottom. From then on there's an unbroken sequence of top quality songs, executed with artistry and conviction, ranging from Duke to Fats and Humph originals - he was a prolific composer; more bands should play his songs, they're durable and excellent.

So, a fitting salute to a great band. Excellent remastered sound, that previously unreleased trio of songs, Humph's own caricatures reproduced in the extensive booklet - all these things constitute value for money and artistic excellence.

Jonathan Woolf

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