Saturday, January 26, 2008


at the Civic


Humph has been a bandleader for almost sixty years. As he says, it's a fantastic way to earn a living.

He brought his latest line-up to the Civic last weekend, playing two generous sets to an appreciative capacity crowd.

Nostalgia was the prevailing mood, as for instance in the lovely Makin' Whoopee, featuring Ray Wordworth's trombone, in Lyttleton's own Doesn't Time Fly, and the superb sequence of classic ballads, culminating in Sad Sweet Song.

Relative newcomer Jo Fooks [sax] wrote a lively, listenable piece entitled M25, and Rob Fowler brought an organic sax sound to Trouble in Mind, as well as contributing significantly to Echoes of the Duke, written by Humph for a 1984 album devoted to his hero Ellington.

Each half sent us out with a smile: the African-inspired number before the interval was full of sunshine and exuberance, and, as an encore, there was an exquisite silk purse arrangement of that wartime sow's ear, Mairzy Doats.

Humph's ramblings are carefully judged, and, while his playing nowadays is a triumph of style over substance, his charisma and his musicianship still amaze and delight.

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