Walter Page Day

February 9, 1900 – December 20, 1957

A tribute to the swinging bassist

Bassist Walter Page was born February 9, 1900 in Gallatin, Missouri.

Page started out playing tuba, learning string bass while in high school.

As part of the Kansas City jazz scene, Page played bass in the early 1920s with the Bennie Moten Orchestra and then in 1925 formed Walter Page’s Blue Devils.

The Blue Devils only recorded two songs but they were considered the main competitor to Moten’s larger band and at various times included Count Basie, Jimmy Rushing, Hot Lips Page, Jo Jones and Lester Young in its personnel.

However Moten regularly “raided” the Blue Devils and all of its key members eventually joined Moten’s group, including Page who gave up his own band in 1931.

Page was with Moten until 1934, worked with the Jeter-Pillars Band, and was a key member of the Count Basie Orchestra during 1936-42 and 1946-49 where his walking bass set the standard among bassists, rarely taking solos but always swinging the ensembles.

After the Count Basie Orchestra temporarily broke up, Page freelanced in swing and Dixieland settings, working with Hot Lips Page, Jimmy Rushing, Eddie Condon, Ruby Braff and Wild Bill Davison.

Here is “Blue Devil Blues,” one of the two records made by Walter Page’s Blue Devils on November 10, 1929; singer Jimmy Rushing and trumpeter Hot Lips Page are featured.

-Scott Yanow


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