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Jazz for Curious Readers
Todd Bryant Weeks
February 1, 2010

Writer, educator and jazz historian Todd Bryant Weeks has taught Jazz History and Introduction to Music at Rutgers University-Newark and with the acclaimed Bard Prison Initiative. He has lectured at the Institute of Jazz Studies in Newark, New Jersey and at the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona, New York. His writing has appeared in The Annual Review of Jazz Studies, Allegro, Uptown Magazine and in liner notes for Rhino/Warner Bros. Weeks also wrote the chapter on jazz in Harlem for the book Forever Harlem: Celebrating America's Most Diverse Community (2007). He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter.

But he may become best known for his first book, Luck's In My Corner: The Life and Music of Hot Lips Page, a comprehensive biography of one of the most compelling jazz musicians of the Swing Era, Oran “Hot Lips” Page, perhaps the greatest of the Kansas City trumpeters. Page blew a powerful, growling horn that made him the go-to man on that instrument during Count Basie's earliest days as a leader. Page went on to be a featured soloist with Artie Shaw, a star of New York's 52nd Street, and a pioneer of the burgeoning R&B scene of the 1950s.

Despite his many successes, Page's personal life was fraught with troubles. His father died when his son was eight, and the boy was forced to leave school and go to work to help support his family. Page's second wife, Myrtle, who by all accounts was the love of his life, died suddenly in New York in 1946 at the age of twenty-eight, leaving Hot Lips as the sole parent of their young son, Oran Jr. Throughout the 1940s, he struggled to maintain his audience as the popular style of music changed from Swing to Bebop to Rhythm and Blues. He died suddenly after a mysterious incident in 1954, at age forty-six.

Through interviews, anecdotes and oral histories, author Todd Bryant Weeks pieced together Page's personal story. He contacted dozens of people (many in their eighties and nineties) who knew Page personally, and spent many hours interviewing several of Page's family members, including his son, Oran Page, Jr., who is now a Municipal Judge in Jackson, Mississippi. Weeks was granted access to files, photographs and personal scrapbooks belonging to Page at the Institute of Jazz Studies in Newark, New Jersey. The book includes dozens of unpublished photographs, musical transcriptions and analysis and a complete new discography of Hot Lips Page, who, as a result of Weeks' excellent investigative and journalistic efforts, should no longer be considered unsung.

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