In January 2008, Humphrey Lyttelton celebrated sixty years as a bandleader, leading a band which he ranked as one of the very best of his career. Its hallmark is versatility, reflected in a repertoire which extends from early traditional to modern by way of Ellington and Basie.
The band’s range is also shown by the cast-list of artists whom it has accompanied on disc or in special presentations over the years, among them instrumentalists Buck Clayton, Buddy Tate, Kenny Davern, Acker Bilk and Annie Whitehead and singers Jimmy Rushing, Marie Knight, Big Joe Turner, Elkie Brooks, Helen Shapiro, Stacey Kent and Tina May. Perhaps surprising is a single-track appearance on a CD by the esoteric pop group, Radiohead, recorded in July 2000.
The band has had, over the years, many distinguished arrangers, among them Kenny Graham, Buck Clayton, Harry South, Eddie Harvey and, most prolific of all, Pete Strange, whom Humph introduced on-stage as ‘our staff arranger’. Not to be forgotten are Humph’s own compositions, of which he recorded well over two hundred, including ‘the medley of his hit’, Bad Penny Blues.
The band continues to work presenting Humph’s music and showcasing his vast music library. There are also featured guest artists on many of the concerts and these include past members of the band.
The most important ingredients are, of course, the musicians, all stars in their own right!