To get the negative comment out of the way first,this compilation merits five stars for musical content, and the only reason I've docked one star is because of the slipshod presentation by EMI Gold. This is the company for which Humph recorded in the 78 era, from whence most if not all of these sides were drawn, yet the tracklist contains no reference to the personnel involved, and only an indication of the year, which is not always accurate. Furthermore, since the relatively brief liner note by Stuart Nicholson comments that "Represented here are three key periods of Lyttelton's distinguished career...early New Orleans Revivalist jazz,....the Johnny Hodges jump style...to the smoothly interlocking mainstream.." it would have been intelligent to have organised this 3CD set in such a way as to chart that chronological progression, rather than in random order.
Having said that, Humph's instantly identifiable style transcends those limitations. His strong trumpet lead provided a rallying point for his troops, and urged them on to even greater feats of musicianship. Underpinning everything lay a superb rhythm section, which ensured that there was no loss of momentum either in the up-tempo numbers or, more difficult to sustain, the slow stately pieces. There is not a dull track here, and hearing them again recaptures the spirit of the fifties in which they were created.