Walter Page's Blue Devils on Apple Music

Walter Page's Blue Devils

The Oklahoma City Blue Devils, also known as Walter Page's Blue Devils, featured an all-star lineup as one of Kansas City's premier jazz bands in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The territory band is best known for breaking in a gifted young pianist named William Basie, who later gained fame as Count Basie. Other luminaries included singer Jimmy Rushing, alto saxophonist Buster Smith, trumpeteer Oran "Hot Lips" Page and, briefly, tenor saxophonist Lester Young. Page, who played bass, tuba and baritone sax, got the band together when the Billy King Road Show broke up in 1925. The band cut Blue Devil Blues in 1929, Basie's first recording; he left shortly after. The band started at nine members and grew to as many as 15, at times including James Simpson on trumpets, Eddie Durham on trombone, Willie Lewis on piano, Reuben Lynch on guitar; Edward McNeil on drums, Ernie Williams on vocals, Abe Bolar on bass, Lemuel C. Johnson] on clarinet and tenor saxophone, and [$Don Byas on tenor and alto saxophone. The band trumped nearly every opponent it faced in battle of the bands competitions, except for the older Bennie Moten band, which eventually absorbed most of the Blue Devils, including Page. The corps of the band later went on to play with Count Basie. ~ Ron DePasquale

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