LIVING JAZZ HISTORY: ORAN ‘HOT LIPS’ PAGE, THE UNDERRATED TRUMPET MASTER OF THE 1930’s & ’40’s

Hi folks —

I always wanted to post this rare gem, an original autograph of the wonderful, of the inimitable, the one and only Oran ‘Hot Lips’ Page!

‘Hot Lips’ was an eager, and very busy after-hours jam session-ite. He played in various settings, with today mostly unknown cats (except the ones on the golden cover, of course!) at Minton’s Playhouse, at Monroe’s Uptown Hall, or at Jerry Newman’s apartment, and other joints, just for his and everybody’s fun.

‘Hot Lips’ was a joyful trumpeter with a big tone, directly influenced by Louis Armstrong. Most commercial studio dates don’t reflect his daring trumpet excursions; they rarely let you hear adequately how he really sounded. — He sometimes went to the extreme, as the following great interpretation of I Got Rhythm from 1940 shows.

This music can be already labeled “free jazz”, but on chord changes. Very interesting is ‘Hot Lips’ Page’s unexpected use of a well known bebop phrase of which I always thought it had been invented by Dizzy Gillespie, or Fats Navarro.

Be warned in advance, ’cause this is a very mad chase on Gershwin’s old warhorse! — Herbie Fields plays the crazy tenorsax, and Donald Lambert can be heard with a rather wild stride piano. — As it is stated in Dan Morgenstern’s very informative LP liners, ‘Hot Lips’ plays with the soft trumpet leather case pulled over the bell of the trumpet throughout the session; he did that for avoiding complaints of the neighbors.

The track was recorded during a party in Jerry Newman’s apartment. He had a portable disc recorder, a rare thing in the early 1940’s. Have a closer listening to Oran’s very last sound of the 1st solo: He blew it only on the mouthpiece!

Some chicks in the audience are responding with orgiastic cheers:

I GOT RHYTM.

The next number is one of the most lyrical versions of Joe Primrose’s ST. JAMES INFIRMARY BLUES.

It features Artie Shaw’s super smooth, but nevertheless very bluesy clarinet, and ‘Hot Lips’ is not only playing a splendid trumpet solo during the last third of the piece, he also sings the requiem in his own, grief-stricken rough way, backed by trumpeter Max Kaminsky. Listen to the orchestra too, how groovy they’re responding to the powerful bugle calls.

Georgie Auld, Johnny Guarnieri, and Ray Conniff can be heard with brief solos on tenorsax, piano, and trombone. — The very famous, two-part chart, penned by an unknown arranger in two different tempos, was recorded for Victor Bluebird in New York, on November 12, 1941.

Blog owner’s note:

This post was a work in progress, and so, you may have found the promised links, and other alterations.

Stay tuned anyway!

Very Blowingly Hot Lips Page

For framing also the bottom of the picture with yet more music (it has been sent to me as a gift by a very good Canadian friend from a still very swinging big band forum), here’s one of meanwhile numerous YouTube videos, which are playing original shellacks of justifiably very proud owners. — Well, this can be quite a painful experience sometimes, but not in this case.

Go, get some gin, and enjoy!

Blog owner’s 2nd note: As I said above, this article was a – now completed – work in progress🙂

 

“As for the photo: I really believe it is a portion of a larger photograph of a jam session at Jimmy Ryan’s (circa 1942 or so) and I would bet money that the complete photograph is by Charles Peterson and is in either SWING ERA NEW YORK or EDDIE CONDON’S SCRAPBOOK OF JAZZ.

So.

Drum roll.

I believe the guitarist is Jack Bland. The tenorist is probably Kenneth Hollon. The altoist is definitely Pete Brown, and I am fairly sure it is Kaminsky.

Does that help?”

 

It surely did, Mr. Ess! — Thanks a bunch!

‘Hot Lips’ at the Reno Club, Kansas City

Addendum —

St. James Infirmary Blues – The lines, as sung by ‘Hot Lips’:

Went down to the St. James Infirmary
I saw my baby there,

Stretched out on a long white table,
So cold, so sweet, so fair.

Let her go, let her go, God bless her;
Wherever she may be
She can look this wide world over
She’ll never find another sweet man like me.

Though she treated me mean and low-down
Somehow I didn’t care
Well the Lord knows she was a good girl
And I’ll see her again up there.

Now, when I die, I want you to bury me in Edwin Clapp shoes
A box-back suit and a Stetson hat;
Put a twenty-dollar gold piece on my watch chain
So the boys know I died standin’ pat.

Blog owner’s note: The correct brand name of the shoes has been kindly provided by Mr. S😉 — Thanks a bunch!

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