Celebrating Humph’s links with Leamington

Humphrey Lyttelton (trumpet) with Spicy Jazz's Zoltan Sagi (sax) and Bob Jackson (trombone) with Caz Shennington (vocal) at the Cork and Fork, Regent Hotel, Leamington, 1990
Humphrey Lyttelton (trumpet) with Spicy Jazz's Zoltan Sagi (sax) and Bob Jackson (trombone) with Caz Shennington (vocal) at the Cork and Fork, Regent Hotel, Leamington, 1990

Leamington’s connections to a much-loved broadcaster and accomplished jazz man will be celebrated at a special concert tonight (Friday).

The late Humphrey Lyttelton is well remembered for his chairmanship of Radio 4’s I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue. But his first love was jazz, through which ‘Humph’ developed a fondness for Leamington.

His band played at the Spa Centre on regular occasions. But a favourite gig, in 1990, was guesting with Leamington’s Spicy Jazz at the Regent Hotel, in the jazz bar called the Cork and Fork, organised by then manager Mike Tandy.

Leamingtonian Prof Bob Jackson, who still leads Spicy Jazz, remembers the occasion well. He said: “I proposed Humphrey Lyttelton for an honorary doctorate at Warwick University, to acknowledge his huge contribution to British jazz as a musician, bandleader, writer and broadcaster.

The University accepted the proposal and the degree was awarded to Humph in Coventry Cathedral in 1987. The following year Humph and the band returned to take part in a jazz weekend, and Humph, trumpet in hand, gave an excellent lecture on his 40 years as a professional jazz musician.

“Humph heard Spicy Jazz, and later wrote the sleeve note for one of our CDs. We invited him to appear as a guest with the band at the Cork and Fork in Leamington. He was delighted to do so and he played to a very packed house. He stayed at the Regent Hotel, and he really loved the town.”

As part of Warwick University’s 50th anniversary celebrations, the re-formed Humphrey Lyttelton band, with Tony Fisher taking Humph’s role on the trumpet, and with Zoltan Sagi as guest saxophonist, will be playing at the university tonight. Before the concert, Prof Jackson will be giving a talk at 6pm about Humphrey Lyttelton’s connections with Warwick University and with Leamington’s Cork and Fork, and Roger Fagge will be speaking about 50 years of jazz at the University.

The venue is the Helen Martin Studio at the University’s Arts Centre, and entrance to the talks is free.

Call 024 7652 4524 for more information.