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Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Hot Lips Page - Lip's Blues

Side 1:
01. Dance Of The Tambourine
02. Uncle Sam Blues
03. Pagin' Mr Page
04. I Keep Rollin' On

Side 2:
01. I Got What It Takes
02. Good For Stompin'
03. Lip's Blues
04. Blooey

Download from here:

On with the Savoy homemade comp series. With this collection we step back to 1944 which is the year when the Savoy recording operation really started to take off, with Buck Ram producing sessions by jazz musicians from the clubs of 52nd Street and Harlem. Among the artists recorded that year were Tiny Grimes, Lester Young, Pete Brown, Ben Webster, Helen Humes, Viola Wells (Miss Rhapsody), The Five Red Caps (in disguise as The Toppers), Don Byas, Clyde Hart and Earl Warren (really the Count Basie Band minus Basie).

Texas born trumpeter and singer Oran "Hot Lips" Page started his professional music career in the 1920s with Ma Rainey's band, gaining a deep grounding in blues and jazz not only accompanying Rainey but also touring with Ida Cox and Bessie Smith. He was in Walter Page's Blue Devils, a band which originated in Oklahoma but which gravitated towards the wide open scene of Kansas City at the start of the 1930s. Following in the footsteps of Count Basie, Hot Lips Page and Jimmy Rushing left The Blue Devils for another KC band, that of Bennie Moten. When Moten died in 1935 Basie took over as band leader. In 1936 Lips went solo, leaving the Basie band just as it was about to achieve national fame.

Somehow despite his abilities both as a trumpet player and blues singer Hot Lips Page never quite reached the heights that seemed to be his for the asking. He moved to New York, played an important part in the live jazz scene and recorded sides for Decca and Bluebird with small group and big band backing. In the early forties he was with the Artie Shaw band and by 1944 his live club work led to recording sessions for Commodore and Savoy.

The first Savoy session in June 1944 was with a small group which included Harlem and 52nd Street regulars like Don Byas and Big Sid Catlett. For the second Savoy session in September 1944 the backing band was expanded with the addition of such notables as Ike Quebec, Earl Bostic and Tiny Grimes. The eight tracks are good examples of what came to be known retrospectively as "Harlem Jump" i.e. an immediate predecessor of jump blues and R&B which retained a heavy swing influence.

A few years further down the line and we find Lips' bands playing in a more R&B style, especially in the December 1947 sessions for King which included backing Wynonie Harris on numbers like "Blow Your Brains Out," "Good Rockin' Tonight" and "Lollipop Mama." A 2009 CD on El Toro collects sides from various labels including King, Apollo, RCA Victor and Columbia. Entitled "Roll Roll Roll (The R&B Years)", it's worth a punt if you can find a reasonably priced copy.The opening track "Last Call For Alcohol" is perhaps one of the most frantic sides I've ever heard. It's a sort of supercharged amalgam of swing, R&B and even 1920s hot jazz.

Background info on the tracks on "Lip's Blues":

"Dance Of The Tambourine," "Uncle Sam Blues," "Pagin' Mr Page" and "I Keep Rollin' On" recorded in NYC on June 14th, 1944. Personnel: Hot Lips Page (trumpet, vocals); Floyd "Horsecollar" Williams (alto, tenor sax); Don Byas, George Johnson (tenor saxes); Clyde Hart (piano); John Simmons (bass); Sidney Catlett (drums).

Uncle Sam Blues / Paging Mr. Page released on Savoy 520 in August 1944.

Dance Of The Tambourine / I Keep Rollin' On released on Savoy 521 in November 1944.

The above singles by Hot Lips Page's Swing Seven.

"I Got What It Takes," "Good For Stompin'," "Lip's Blues" and "Blooey" recorded in NYC on September 12th, 1944. Personnel: Jesse Brown, Joe Keyes (trumpets); Hot Lips Page (trumpet, vocals); Vic Dickenson (trombone); Earl Bostic, Floyd "Horsecollar" Williams (alto saxes); Don Byas, Ike Quebec (tenor saxes); Clyde Hart (piano, celeste); Tiny Grimes (guitar); Al Lucas (bass); Jack Parker (drums).

Lip's Blues / I Got What It Takes released on Savoy 529 in December 1944. This single was re-released on Savoy 700 as Double Trouble Blues / I Got What It Takes in August 1949.

"Good For Stompin'" and "Blooey" were unreleased until Savoy LP "The Changing Face Of Harlem" (SJL 2208) in 1976.

Hot Lips Page died in New York in 1954 aged 46, following a heart attack.


Bob Mac said...

Thanks for this BW. I didn't realize he had died so young. He must have been doing some hard living to go out with a heart attack at 46.

boogiewoody said...

I gather that it was indeed "hard living" which caused Lips to shuffle off this mortal coil at a comparatively early age. Too many all nighters with attendant fags and booze perhaps. The life of a jazz musician back in the day.

neil said...

Great that he left us some fine tracks; many thanks, boogiewoody...