For fans of small-combo jazz from the '40s (pre-bebop, that is), Hot Lips Page's many sides offer that perfect marriage of jazz licks and blues atmospherics. And although Page wasn't necessarily a trumpet ace in the league of Armstrong or Cootie Williams, his irrepressible style and raspy-to-bright tone usually enlivened most every date he graced (just check out his early work on Bennie Moten's epochal 1932 recordings). Page also could have made a handsome living just as a blues singer; his was a gruff and driving voice equally at home on both the serious and novelty end of the form. This Classics release brings together a fetching mix from Page's 1940-1944 freelancing prime, with a large dose of his vocal work getting nicely framed by the day's top jazz players. Two highlights from the first part here include "Evil Man Blues" and "Just Another Woman," two of Page's best vocals featuring Leonard Feather on piano and Teddy Bunn on guitar. The majority of the remaining tracks are ones Page and his band cut in 1944. Amidst the prevailing after-hours mood, there's a wealth of fine soloing by the likes of Don Byas, Chu Berry, Lucky Thompson, and Vic Dickenson. This disc might not make it into any jazz polls, but it's a solid collection for those who love Page's infectious style and sophisticated jump grooves.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook
feat: Don Byas