When people start going through the names of jazz legends that have changed the face of the genre, you rarely, if ever hear the name Oran “Hot Lips” Page in the list. Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, and even Wynton Marsalis are usually mentioned as the most influential musicians of all time.
But, Hot Lips is a name that should be included within the top ten greatest jazz musicians of all time. I know he’s on my list. Now, you’re probably thinking, who the heck is Hot Lips Page? He’s not the most well-known cat within the jazz circle, but this trumpeter came up during the golden age of jazz and could go toe-to-toe with just about any musician of his day. He is affiliated with the swinging, Kansas City jazz scene of the 1920s and 30s. He’s recorded with some of the great swing musicians including Count Basie, Benny Moten, Artie Shaw and has also led his own band.
I was just recently introduced to this brilliant musician by my mentor Jim Gallert and after listening to his version of the classic tune, “St. James Infirmary” I was hooked. Not only is Hot Lips an amazing trumpeter, but a great vocalist as well. Just imagine a younger version of Louis Armstrong. That’s the exact image I got of him after hearing some of his tracks. Hot Lips’ raspy, but mellow vocals and bluesy, virtuosic trumpet style is what set him apart from other musicians.
Although, he led an adventurous life and got the chance to play with some legendary musicians, he never received the the credit he deserved and unfortunately did not live long enough to obtain the type of success that his peers did.
If only through a few blog posts, it is my goal to expose this great artist to others and hopefully get Hot Lips some more fans. Be prepared for some more Hot Lips from Roots, Rhythm, and Rhyme. Here are a couple tunes to get ya going.