Lyttleton, Humphrey “Humph” (Richard Adeane)

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Lyttleton, Humphrey “Humph” (Richard Adeane)

Lyttleton, Humphrey “Humph” (Richard Adeane), jazz trumpeter, clarinetist, leader, composer, author, broadcaster; b. Eton, Buckinghamshire, England, May 23, 1921. He is one of the best-loved British jazz figures. In addition to leading bands, he has hosted TV series and authored books. He has been leading his own bands from the late 1940s, first in a traditional style, and then, amid much controversy at the time, in a more swing and mainstream style, after the Ellington small group recordings. Many prominent British musicians (including, in the mid-1970s, Kathy Stobart and Bruce Turner among others) have worked with his bands, which have toured and recorded extensively. He has also made several recordings either with or using the arrangements of Buck Clayton. For many years he presented his own weekly show on national radio.

He began playing trumpet while at Eton. In 1941 he joined the Grenadier Guards. After demobilization in 1946, he studied at Camberwell School of Art, London, and sat-in with various bands at the Nut House, the Orange Tree, and others. He played in Carlo Krahmer’s band; briefly led his own pick-up band (March 1947); later that month joined George Webb’s Dixielanders. He formed his own band in January 1948, which he has continued to lead through the 1990s. He appeared with Derek Neville’s Band at the Nice Festival in February 1948; briefly co-led a big band with visiting Australian pianist /leader Graeme Bell in 1951; and with Freddy Grant, co-led the Paseo Band in 1952. Lyttleton’s own band accompanied Sidney Bechet in London (1949) and later accompanied many visiting musicians and singers, including Buck Clayton, Buddy Tate, Henry Allen, Jimmy Rushing, and Joe Turner. Humphrey also worked as a cartoonist for the Daily Mail from 1949 until 1953, as well as writing the script for Wally Fawkes’ “Flook” strip. From 1948 onwards he did regular international touring with his own band, including the U.S., the Middle East, and throughout Europe. In 1958 he formed his own big band, which performed frequently in the 1960s. He did a British tour with his own band from February to March 1975, also appeared on TV, played at the Concert Ellington Memorial RFH in June 1975 and the Armstrong Memorial RFH in July 1975. In 1977 he toured as a soloist with the “Salute to Satchmo” show, and guested with Alex Welsh’s Band in 1978, when the show toured Australia.

For over 30 years, Humph has regularly guested with various British bands, including Mike Pembroke’s Hot Seven, Mart Rodger’s Hot Seven, Dave Morgan’s Band, the Red River Jazzmen, Zenith Hot Stompers, George Huxley’s Band, the Zenith Six, and others. He also made guest appearances in Canada during the 1980s. He is a prolific composer, and a successful author and broadcaster. He began his own Calligraph record label in 1984. His own band continued through the 1990s, and he also did concert tours and recordings with singer Helen Shapiro and in a group he co-led with Acker Bilk.


Delving Back and Forth with Hum (1948); A Tribute to Humph, Vol 1 (1949); A Tribute to Humph, Vol. 2 (1950); A Tribute to Humph, Vol. 3 (1951); Jazz at the Royal Festival Hall (1951); A Tribute to Humph, Vol. 4 (1952); A Tribute to Humph, Vol. 5 (1952); A Tribute to Humph, Vol. 6 (1953); A Tribute to Humph, Vol. 7 (1955); A Tribute to Humph, Vol. 8 (1955); Some Like It Hot (1955); Back to the Sixties (1960); Humphrey Lyttleton and His Band (1960); Duke Ellington Classics (1969); Doggin’ Around’ WAM (1971); In Swinger (1974); Take It from the Top (1975); It Seems Like Yesterday (1983); Movin’ and Groovin (1983); Humph at the Bull’s Head (1984); This Old Gang of Ours (1985); Gonna Call My Children Home (1986); Gigs (1987); Beano Boogie (1989); Rock Me Gently (1991); Rent Party (1991); At Sundown (1992).


I Play As I Please: The Memoirs of an Old Etonian Trumpeter (London, 1954); Second Chorus (London, 1958); Lyttleton, Take It from the Top: An Autobiographical Scrapbook (London, 1975); Why No Beethoven? (London, 1984).

—John Chilton,/Lewis Porter