Friday, November 20, 2015

Humphrey Lyttelton's In Canada

Delmark has another re-release on CD taken from the Sackville label, Humphrey Lyttelton's "In Canada." This was recorded in 1983 during the English jazz pioneer's second visit to Canada with the trumpeter and clarinetist backed by Jim Galloway on saxophones and clarinet, the highly underrated Ed Bickert on guitar, Neil Swainson on bass and Terry Clarke on drums. While initially heavily influenced by Louis Armstrong, Lyttelton matured and his repertoire had extended to into what was in a style the late Stanley Dance referred to as mainstream, reflecting the influences of Basie, Ellington, and Buck Clayton in addition to Armstrong.

Swing, not trad jazz, is the center of these eight Lyttelton compositions opening with "It's a Thing," with the leader playing muted trumpet after Bickert's sprite guitar helps set the lively mood with Galloway's soprano suggestive of Johnny Hodge's alto, and the three trade fours towards the end. Nothing fancy about the Ellington evoking "Sprauncy," with the leader perhaps taking a nod towards Cootie Williams with his muted while playing in unison with Galloway's baritone sax as Swainson took a crisp bass solo. The peppy and playful "Squiggly" contrasts with a lazy blues groove on "Looking For Turner." One can hear some evidence of Armstrong's influence on Lyttelton's open trumpet on "Lady Jekyll and Mistree Hyde," a nicely paced performance with more marvelous soprano from Galloway. "Leisure World" is a fine blues with Galloway on baritone, with Bickert's chords and single note runs and the rhythm duo of Swainson and Clarke delivery their steady, swinging support.

No claim of musical innovation is made about the swinging jazz heard on "In Canada," It is a simple, straight-ahead, wonderfully played recording that provides plenty of  sounds to sit back, listen and enjoy.

I received my review copy from Delmark. This review appeared orioginally in the May-June 2015 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 360). Here is a live recording (audio) of Humphrey in a more trad mode doing Benny Moten's "South."

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