OKC Blue Devils

 

Featured Inductee

The Oklahoma City Blue Devils were a territorial band with a legendary reputation among musicians in the Southwest. Starting in 1923 accompanying Billy King's road show, "Moonshine," at the Aldridge Theatre in Oklahoma City, they also performed for white and African American audiences from Texas to the Dakotas until stranded in Bluefield, West Virginia. The Blue Devils were a "commonwealth" band, lacking a leader, and members voted democratically on every issue.

Early bandsmen included bassist Walter Page, pianist Willie Lewis, trombonist Ermal Coleman, and drummer Edward McNeil, and through the years singer Jimmy Rushing, saxophonist Henry "Buster" Smith, cornetist Oran "Hot Lips" Page, tromboner/guitarist/composter/arranger Eddie Durham, pianist William "Count" Basie, and Lester "Pres" Young. Bandsmen often taught lesser-known musicians before they joined the band.

The Blue Devils recorded only once, in 1929, cutting two records, "Blue Devil Blues" and "Squabblin'." They were a rival of the Bennie Moten band from Kansas City, but the two never competed against one another in the famous "battle of the bands" as some musicians claimed. Several Blue Devils, Durham, Rushing, Basie, and Hot Lips Page among them, joined Moten's orchestra, making the classic 1932 recordings including "Toby" and "Lafayette," considered to be the earliest examples of big band swing.

By the mid-1930s the Blue Devils stayed in Kansas City performing in small bands and variously with bandleaders Moten and Basie. Pianist Eddie Christian led a new version of the Devils in 1935, but it was short-lived. When Basie formed his Reno Club combo in that city in 1935, his motto was to "get some Blue Devils." The band was in his opinion the finest performers he ever heard. Lester Young, Walter Page, and Jimmy Rushing were stalwarts in the orchestra, and Durham wrote many of their hits with Rushing and Basie, whose orchestra went through several versions over five decades.

read more

RECENT NEWS

OCT13

WORLD-FAMOUS COUNT BASIE ORCHESTRA PLAYS JAZZ DEPOT SUNDAY

Eighty-seven years ago this past summer, a piano player from New Jersey named William “Count” Basiestirred in his bed at Tulsa's Red Wing Hotel, awakened by what he first thought was a phonograph record. It turned out to be a big jazz band called the Oklahoma City Blue Devils, playing off the back of a flatbed truck in order to drum up business for a dance that night. Basie was in town playing the Dreamland Theatre on Greenwood Avenue with a touring vaudeville act, and he hurriedly dressed and went out to see the group for himself.

... read more

OCT3

VOCAL JAZZ GROUP SHERIDAN ROAD ENCORES SUNDAY AT JAZZ DEPOT

Just about four months ago, Jazz Depot patrons met Sheridan Road for the first time. It was only the second public performance for the three-man, three-woman vocal-jazz group, whose members all came out of Tulsa Signature Symphony's 40-voice chorale.

... read more

SEP29

“Too Darn Hot” Cole Porter Revue Features All-Female Vocalists

        Although there are a lot of factors that go into making a show a hit, it's hard to go wrong with a concert full of Cole Porter music. In his four-plus decades as a songwriter and composer, the Indiana native contributed scores of classic tunes to the Great American Songbook, including such evergreens as “Night and Day,” “I Get A Kick out of You,” “My Heart Belongs to Daddy,” and “Let's Do It, Let's Fall in Love.”

... read more

read more

newsletter SIGN UP

Weekly Newsletter

Sign up for our weekly email newsletter about upcoming events at The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame.

mulberry outlet mulberry sale