Some Hot Lips for Ya Day

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.

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4 thoughts on “Some Hot Lips for Ya Day

  1. You didn’t convincingly establish why Lips is in the same league as Armstrong, Dizzy, and Miles. And Wynton Marsalis having a hand in changing the face of jazz is questionable.

    I would argue Marsalis is nothing more than a jazz traditionalist. Lips was a good player, but his style of trumpeting did not change the face of jazz.

    I’ve been writing about jazz for 20 plus years now. And I have never heard any jazz critics, jazz historians, or jazz fans list Marsalis and Dizzy as the greatest jazz musicians of all times.

    If I had to compile a list of all time great jazz musicians, neither Dizzy or Marsalis would have made the cut.

    Be careful of making statements you cannot support with a few cogent examples. If you believe Lips is in the same league as Armstrong, Dizzy and Miles, you have to offer up some examples.

    This post would have been tighter if you had focused on recently discovering Lips’s music and how you think it ranks up there with Armstrong, Dizzy, and Miles.

  2. You make a really good point Charles, thanks for the advice. I think I went a little too far in expressing my thoughts about Hot Lips without supporting my argument with facts.

    I guess its safe to say that had Hot Lips made different decisions in his lifetime, then his career may have measured up to that of his playing techniques, and he would be as well received as his counterparts were like Armstrong and Gillespie.

    I’ll keep your thoughts in mind when I write my next post about Hot Lips.

  3. Your thing is going to be commentary. You should focus on that for now, and the jazz historian thing will happen at some point.

    I don’t want you to get caught up in that historian bag this soon in your career.

    You are opinionated in a good way. And you have the rare combination of talent and desire.

    I enjoyed reading your post about certain R&B singers rapping. Your comments on were insightful.

    I wonder how those singers would feel about rappers suddenly wanting to be singers. I bet the singers would be against it. I liked that you pointed out there is a science to rapping.

    I’m sorry if I was hard on you. I want to help you avoid the mistakes I made when I started out as a music journalist.

  4. I really appreciate your advice Charles, constructive criticism is something that I welcome, especially when it comes to writing.

    I got a lot of that from my professors in college, so I’m used to it, and it’s helped me in numerous ways. I’m glad that you have taken the time to read my work and offer some great feedback.

    In terms of the historian thing, I know I have a long way to go before I can be on the levels of people like Jim or Lars or even my idol Amiri Baraka. And like you said, it’s a little soon in my career to try to master their techniques, it’s something that will hopefully come in time.

    I hope you have a great Christmas and Happy New Year:)

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