Saturday, April 26, 2008

Jazzobit: Humphrey Lyttelton

It's genuinely heartbreaking to hear of the death of Humphrey Lyttelton at the age of 86.

For his stewardship of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue over thirty-five years, and of Radio 2's Jazz programme for as long as the network has existed, his contribution to British radio is unquestionable; his journalism and writing spanned eight books, numerous contributions to the likes of Punch, and scripting the Flook cartoon strip in the Daily Mail in the late 1940s. But, at heart, Lyttelton remained a jazz musician.

His formed his first band in 1948; initially, he released the group's music on his own label before signing to EMI to be part of the Parlophone Super Rhythm Style sequence. It was with Parlophone that, in 1956, his Bad Penny Blues became the first jazz record to make the top 20.

Although at the heart of the jazz scene - his band opened for Louis Armstrong when Satchmo played London in 1956 - he was never a purist; indeed, the inclusion of more accessible, mainstream stuff in his set and the expansion of the band in the late fifties irked a number of the more stuffy fans on the jazz scene at the time. Luckily, the wider public were more open - in January this year, Lyttelton clocked up his sixtieth year as a band leader.

Lyttelton, who was 86, had recently had surgery for an aortic aneurysm.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Desperately sad news. No great jazz lover myself but ISIHAC is one of the great British comedy institutions.

'The game is based on Give us a Clue, the master of which was Lionel Blair. And who can forget the classic episode that left Lionel on his knees, exhausted but happy, having finished off An Officer and a Gentleman'

RIP Humph.

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