Chris Hodgkins: A Salute To Humphrey Lyttelton

One British trumpeter's tribute to another features an 11-piece band including Henry Lowther, Charlotte Glasson, Mark Bassey and Buster Birch


Trumpeter Hodgkins’ nod towards Humphrey Lyttelton might seem premature to those for whom the Humph legacy is still fresh, but reputations often dissolve straight after their owners die. So, this album is an early reminder of what might be momentarily lost or forgotten.

For example, take Bad Penny Blues, the exocet astride which Humph rocketed into the 1950s pop charts. Of the 15 numbers it’s the only one also on Ray Crick’s 52-track best-of album for the Retrospective label in 2008. It also features two brass horns, not one, as well as other musicians. And whereas Crick includes a few charts written by Humph, Hodgkins’ tribute is as much to Humph the composer – 11 tracks – as to the bandleader.

Hodgkins’ 11-piece is only four short of a tightly populated big band and reflects in arrangements by Frank Griffith and band members Humph’s core mainstream style. One For Buck and Wrestler’s Tricks, arranged by Henry Lowther, are an additional acknowledgement of Buck Clayton, Humph’s main influence on trumpet.

Humph’s “trad” style is noted in an arrangement by reeds player Charlotte Glasson of Mezz’s Tune/Mezzrow on which she and tenor saxophonist Alex Clarke play clarinet, as Humph did on the original, and Diane McLoughlin the soprano saxophone.

Everyone gets to share the solo credits, and with three trumpeters (Lowther doubling flugelhorn) present, it might have been useful in the otherwise informative notes to distinguish them; Noel Langley’s the other one. The salute, a thoroughgoing labour of devotion, toured with a slightly different personnel.

Cross A Busy Street; Cecil Beaton Strides Again; Tribal Dance; Fat Tuesday; Susan; Holy Main; In Swinger; Late Night Final; Mezz’s Tune/Mezzrow; We Fell Out Of Love; One For Buck; Wrestler’s Tricks; Bad Penny Blues; Kath Meets Humph; Let’s Get Out (65.50)
Hodgkins (t); Henry Lowther (t, flh); Noel Langley (t); Charlotte Glasson (bar, cl, penny whistle); Diane McLoughlin (as, ss); Alex Clarke (ts, cl); Mark Bassey (tb); Amy Baldwin (b); Buster Birch (d); Max Brittain (g); Jinjoo Yoo (p). London, 7 December 2021.
Bell CD 519