Humphrey Lyttelton

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Humphrey Lyttelton

Mesaj  Admin Bir C.tesi Mayıs 03, 2008 3:09 pm

Birth name Humphrey Richard Adeane Lyttelton
Also known as Humph
Born 23 May 1921(1921-05-23)
Origin Eton, Berkshire, England
Died April 25, 2008 (aged 86)

Genre(s) Jazz, Dixieland
Occupation(s) Composer
Panel game chairman
Instrument(s) Trumpet
Label(s) Calligraph Records
Associated acts Tony Coe
Alan Barnes
Humphrey Richard Adeane Lyttelton (23 May 1921 – 25 April 2008),[1][2] also known as Humph, was an English jazz musician and broadcaster, and chairman of the BBC radio programme I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. He was a cousin of the 10th Viscount Cobham and a great-nephew of the politician and sportsman Alfred Lyttelton, who was the first man to represent England at both football and cricket.

Early life and career
Lyttelton was born in Eton, where his father, G. W. Lyttelton (second son of the 8th Viscount Cobham), was a house master. (As a male-line descendent of Charles Lyttelton, Lyttelton was in remainder to both the Viscountcy Cobham and the Barony Lyttelton.) From Sunningdale Preparatory School, Lyttelton duly progressed to Eton College. At Eton Lyttelton fagged for Lord Carrington and developed his love for jazz. He was inspired by the trumpeters Louis Armstrong and Nat Gonella, he taught himself the instrument and formed a quartet at the school in 1936 which also included the future journalist Ludovic Kennedy on drums.

After leaving school, Lyttelton spent some time at the steel plate works in Port Talbot in South Wales, an experience which led to him becoming what he termed a "romantic socialist". After being called up for war service, he served in the Grenadier Guards, being commissioned as a second lieutenant on 29 November 1941, and seeing action at Salerno during Operation Avalanche when he came ashore with his pistol in one hand, and his trumpet in the other. On VE Day, 8 May 1945, Lyttelton joined in the celebrations by playing his trumpet from a wheelbarrow, inadvertently giving his first broadcast performance; the BBC recording still survives. Following demobilisation after World War II, he attended Camberwell Art College for two years.

In 1949, he joined the Daily Mail as a cartoonist, where he remained until 1956. Several of his cartoons have recently been on display in various branches of the Abbey bank, as part of their new advertising campaign.

He was one of the collaborators with Wally Fawkes on the long running cartoon strip Flook.

Among his other activities, he was a long-time president of the Society For Italic Handwriting.

The jazzman
In the late 1940s and early 1950s Lyttelton was prominent in the British revival of traditional jazz forms from New Orleans, recording with Sidney Bechet in 1949. To do so he had to break with the Musicians' Union restrictive practices which forbade working with jazz musicians from the United States. In 1956, he had his only hit, with the Joe Meek-produced recording of "Bad Penny Blues", which was in the UK Singles Chart for six weeks. As the trad jazz movement (not quite the same thing as revivalism) developed, Lyttelton moved to a mainstream approach favoured by American musicians such as trumpeter Buck Clayton; they recorded together in the early 1960s and Clayton considered himself and Lyttelton to be brothers.

By now his repertoire had expanded, including not only lesser known Ellington pieces, but even "The Champ" from Dizzy Gillespie's band book. The Lyttelton band — he saw himself primarily as a leader — helped develop the careers of many now prominent British musicians, including Tony Coe and Alan Barnes.

In 1968, at the request of NASA, Lyttelton went to the United States to play a selection of jazz numbers which were broadcast live to the crew of the Apollo 8 space craft.

In 2001, Lyttelton and his band added traditional jazz elements to the Radiohead song "Life in a Glasshouse" on the Amnesiac album.

On 11 March 2008, he announced that he would cease presenting BBC Radio 2's "Best of Jazz", after 40 years.

The Humphrey Lyttelton Band
Humphrey Lyttelton's eight-piece band featured, aside from himself on the trumpet and clarinet: Ray Wordsworth on the trombone; Jimmy Hastings on the alto sax, clarinet and flute; Jo Fooks on the tenor saxophone and flute; Rob Fowler on the tenor sax, baritone sax and clarinet; Ted Beament on the piano; John Rees-Jones on the double bass and Adrian Macintosh on the drums.

The band maintained a busy schedule, performing (frequently sell-out) shows across the country. Performances occasionally include a guest singer, or a collaboration with another band. During the 1990s the band toured with Helen Shapiro in a series of Humph and Helen concerts.

Lyttelton had a long established professional relationship with UK singer Elkie Brooks. After working together in the early sixties they rekindled their working partnership in early 2000 with a series of sold out and well received concert performances. They released the critically acclaimed album Trouble in Mind in 2003 and continued to perform occasional concerts in support of this work.

Radio personality
From 1967 until April 2007, Lyttelton presented most weeks on BBC Radio 2 The Best of Jazz, a programme which featured his idiosyncratic mix of top-quality recordings of all ages and current material. In 2007, Lyttelton chose to cut his commitment to two quarterly seasons per year in order to spend more time on other projects.

In 1972 he was chosen to host the comedy panel game I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue on BBC Radio 4. The show was originally devised as a comedic antidote to traditional BBC panel games (radio and television), which had come to be seen as dull and formulaic in keeping with the "Auntie Beeb" staid middle-class image. Lyttelton continued in this role almost until his death, famed for his deadpan, apathetic, disgruntled and occasionally bewildered style of chairmanship, and for his near-the-knuckle double entendres which, despite always being open to an innocent reading, go far further than most BBC pre-watershed humour. The success of the programme had a big influence on the manner in which comedy was presented on the radio. Lyttelton's persona was a big part of the success: he was a straight-man surrounded by mayhem, a very similar comedy device to the role of Kenneth Horne in Round the Horne in the 1960s. At the time of his death, Lyttelton was the oldest active panel/game show host in the UK, being two and a half years older than his closest rival, Nicholas Parsons.

On Tuesday 22 April 2008 Lyttelton and the I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue team were due to appear in the stage version of the programme at the Pavilion Theatre in Bournemouth. Due to his indisposition his place was taken by Rob Brydon but a pre-recorded message from Lyttelton was played to the audience ("I'm sorry I can't be with you today as I am in hospital - I wish I'd thought of this sooner!"). The panellists on that night were Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden, Barry Cryer and Jeremy Hardy.

As well as his other activities, Lyttelton was a keen calligrapher and President of The Society for Italic Handwriting. He named his own record label "Calligraph" after this extracurricular interest. This label, founded in the early 1980s, not only issues his own albums and those of associates, but also re-issues (on CD) his analogue recordings made for the Parlophone label in the 1950s. He is reported to have turned down a knighthood in 1995.

Illness and death
On 18 April 2008 Jon Naismith, the producer of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, announced the cancellation of the upcoming spring series of ISIHAC owing to Humphrey Lyttelton's hospitalisation to repair an aortic aneurysm. Rob Brydon was asked to deputise for Lyttelton during the tour shows. A further email on 21 April 2008 reported that the BBC were "unclear precisely how long Humph's recovery period will be" but Lyttelton was "otherwise fine and in very good spirits".[10] Lyttelton died peacefully following his surgery on 25 April 2008 with his family around him. BBC Radio 4 broadcast a 1995 episode of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue as a tribute on Sunday 27 April, and a retrospective programme presented by Kenneth Clarke on Wednesday 30 April 2008.

After his death, the controller of Radio 4, Mark Damazer, said: "He's just a colossally good broadcaster and possessed of this fantastic sense of timing. [...] It's a very, very sad day but we should celebrate and be very grateful for how much he did for Radio 4, really terrific."

Responding to news of Lyttelton's death, Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood wrote on the band's blog Dead Air Space: "We were all sorry to hear of Humphrey Lyttelton's death - he was an inspiring person to record with, and without his direction, we'd never have recorded/released Life in a Glasshouse. So go and find Bad Penny Blues, and celebrate his life with some hot jazz."

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Mesaj  Admin Bir C.tesi Mayıs 03, 2008 3:16 pm


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