duncan Lamont songbook

The Duncan Lamont Songbook show began nine years ago;  with Duncan telling stories from his fascinating career in between a selection of his songs. 

Born in Greenock, Scotland, Duncan started playing trumpet with Kenny Graham’s Afro Cubists but then changed to tenor sax and became a jazz studio player. Played with almost everyone in show business. He has worked (often as a featured soloist) with Henry Mancini, Robert Farnon, Benny Goodman, Gil Evans, Bill Holman, Nelson Riddle, Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Bing Crosby, Count Basie, Fred Astaire, Benny Carter, Mel Torme, Paul McCartney…the list is endless.

Photos of Duncan in Greenock & Glasgow in the 1940’s.

Duncan’s songs have been performed and recorded by the cream of singers. Cleo Laine, Blossom Dearie, Mark Murphy, Sandra King, Norma Winstone, Elaine Delmar, Marlene Verplank, Daryl Sherman, Joyce Breach, Richard Rodney Bennett, Frank Holder, Nancy Marano and Natalie Cole. He has earned the respect of some of the most important people in music as a player, writer, arranger and composer, including Benny Carter, Johnny Mandel, Marty Paich & Claire Fisher.
One of his most treasured possessions is a letter from Fred Astaire saying how much he liked Duncan’s song Fred Astaire.
Blossom Dearie in a New York Times interview mentioned Duncan Lamont as one of her favourite songwriters. Cleo Laine has just recorded three more of his songs, also Duncan hosted an off Broadway evening of his songs.
Duncan also won the John Dankworth jazz award for long standing talent in 1999.
Amongst much other orchestral work, Duncan has arranged and conducted for the B.B.C. for many years  and has composed for a large catalogue of library music and music for television.

But he is probably best known for composing the theme tune to the children's programme Mr Benn, voted the sixth most popular children’s programme of all time in a nationwide poll.

Mr Benn Theme Song:

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  Singer, Esther Bennett and composer, Duncan Lamont began the actual "Songbook" show nine years ago;  with Duncan telling stories from his fascinating career in between the selected songs. 

Daniela Clynes first sang some of Duncan's songs when he sent her his book, "Tomorrow's Standards" at the beginning of her career;  and she has continued to perform his songs throughout her performing life.  

Following a joint gig of Daniela's band and Esther & Duncan at London's Spice of Life,  Esther asked Daniela to join the Songbook show a few years ago.     Pianist, John Crawford has played within both bands regularly.

"It makes me very happy that people are still writing songs like I Told You So" Sammy Cahn
"There is no question that Duncan Lamont's songs .....deserve a second, third and fourth hearing." 
Jack Massarik - Evening Standard

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Duncan Lamont & Daniela Clynes perform at The ArtHouse

"Clynes's love of words is apparent....a singer of clarity and soul." Ian Shaw

"I reckon that ballad performances couldn't come much more honest than this." Philip Clark  -  Jazz Review Mag.

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Esther Bennett with Duncan Lamont & band at The 606 Jazz Club

"Vocalist Esther Bennett's many virtues include an incredibly seductive lower register.... and a winning sense of humour."  Jazz Wise Magazine

"Knock 'em dead singer" Evening Standard

CLOSE-UP CULTURE Review of Pizza Express Gig

Duncan Lamont – 86 Going on 36 and Still Making Great Jazz Music

May 22, 2018

DUNCAN Lamont is to jazz what Charles Aznavour is to singing. A legend who at nearly 87 refuses to put down his tenor saxophone or stop writing music. Long may this may be the case.

Although Lamont, slowed down by a stroke a couple of years ago, now sits down to play his saxophone, he is still able to draw a wonderful sound from it. As for his song writing, it remains prolific.

This was very much in evidence at PizzaExpress Jazz Club Soho where Lamont teamed up with singers Esther Bennett and Daniela Clynes to deliver a hatful of tunes from his vast songbook. Hot off the press was a song he had only written a week previously: Lovely Lotus Blossom. Expertly delivered by Clynes. More will follow we were reassured. Lamont’s creative juices flow as rapidly as the Niagara Falls.

Lamont has had a long, varied and successful career, working for many of the ‘greats’ including Henry Mancini, Sammy Davis Junior and Paul McCartney. He also arranged for and conducted the BBC Big Band for many years and wrote the theme tune – and all the incidental music – for 1970s children’s programme Mr Benn. Financial security followed.

He has heroes galore and they often feature in the songs he has written. Delights such as Bird (a tribute to Charlie Parker, with Peter Rubie guesting on jazz guitar), Edward E and William B (Duke Ellington and Count Basie) and Billie Holliday (where Lamont’s sax purred like a kitten). ‘She’s seen it all, she knew it all, she lived it all, she smiled her smile.’

He is also not frightened to be self-deprecating, reminding the audience that Manhattan In The Rain – a song he wrote in one night – was described by his wife as the ‘worst’ he had ever written. It was subsequently recorded – successfully – by Norma Winstone, Liane Carroll and Tina May.

There are songs about those who fall out of love and end up hating each other (Pretty People), tunes to cheer (A Little Samba) and those where Lamont’s sax triumphs (I Did It All For YouThere Ain’t Nothing Like The Blues and I Told You So, made famous by Natalie Cole). Songs that embrace a rich lifetime of memories and making music.

Bennett holds everything together, quietly chiding Lamont when he introduces the wrong song (on more than one occasion) while never showing him anything but the utmost of respect. It is Bennett who is determined more than anyone else that Lamont’s Great (and vast) Songbook should be heard by as many people as possible. She also demonstrates her singing prowess (all sultry, sexy, smoky and witty with it), especially on early numbers A Great Day In Haarlem and Back Through The Looking Glass. She even employs a pepper pot to musical effect when needs must. Improvisation par Bennett.

The afternoon’s proceedings were brought to an end with Scat Singing and the rather grand pronouncement that if everybody scat sang there would be no wars in the world. Paul Pace (The Spice of Life and Ronnie Scott’s) even jumped on stage to lend his support. With John Crawford (piano), Andy Hamil (double bass) and Steve Taylor (drums) lending great support throughout, there is no doubt that Duncan Lamont still packs a mighty punch.

With Aznavour still singing at the youthful age of 93, Lamont has a lot of time left to write more music and lyrics – and demonstrate that he remains one of this country’s most under-stated but master jazz musicians.

An ever expanding songbook from a talented but humble individual.


Duncan Lamont’s birthday gig at the 606 Jazz Club (July 2018) - with Simon Wallace (piano), Andy Hamill (bass), Tina May & Esther Bennett (voice), Duncan Lamont (sax), Daniela Clynes and Steve Taylor (drums)

Duncan Lamont’s birthday gig at the 606 Jazz Club (July 2018) - with Simon Wallace (piano), Andy Hamill (bass), Tina May & Esther Bennett (voice), Duncan Lamont (sax), Daniela Clynes and Steve Taylor (drums)


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EPK for The Duncan Lamont Songbook show in Greenock, Scotland 16/6/19