Cab Calloway: The Hi-De-Ho Man

Fifty-two tracks of Calloway's jumping jive and jazz with Cheatham, Gillespie, Quebec et al are collected on two CDs


There’s a school of thought, indeed I’m one of the graduates, that maintains that the day you leave school is the day you begin to learn, and this release – 32 tracks, spanning a tad over 20 years – is testimony to that.

As a teen, and together with my friends, I wrote off Cab Calloway as a one-trick pony, a novelty, purveyor of rinky-dink, Mickey Mouse music, call it what you will, and pursued my exploration of jazz, swing, whatever, via other easily recognisable exponents. Whilst acknowledging, and even respecting his performances in such films as St Louis Blues, and The Cincinnati Kid, I remained in happy (now embarrassed) ignorance of his role as an innovator, bandleader and entertainer in jazz and swing.

CD1, which covers his first active decade, 1930-39, begins by reinforcing my own initial impression with several basic call-and-response selections but as it progresses the call-and-response gives way to more substantial material, including five entries by Harold Arlen and his first regular lyricist Ted Kohler, which makes sense when we recall that Arlen-Kohler were responsible for several early Cotton Club revues and Calloway and his orchestra were also regulars at the same time.

Although CD2 features more of the ephemeral – Boo-Wah, Boo-Wah; Geechy Joe; Hey, Doc – the sidemen are now from the A list and include Dizzy Gillespie, Jonah Jones, Cozy Cole, Chu Berry, Milt Hinton, names that, I suspect, will make this release a collectors’ must-have. In short: a release both interesting and valuable to the serious jazz buff.

CD1: [1930–1939] Minnie The Moocher; Saint Louis Blues; Some Of These Days; Nobody’s Sweetheart; St James Infirmary; Black Rhythm; Six Or Seven Times; You Rascal, You; Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea; Trickeration; Kicking The Gong Around; The Scat Song; Minnie The Moocher’s Wedding Day; Reefer Man; Hot Toddy; I’ve Got The World On A String; Beale Street Mama; I Got A Right To Sing The Blues; Zaz Zuh Zaz; There’s A Cabin In The Cotton; ’Long About Midnight; Moonglow; At The Clambake Carnival; Ratamacue; The Ghost Of Smoky Joe (77.14)
CD2: [1939–1952] The Jumpin’ Jive (Hep Hep); Crescendo In Drums; Pluckin’ The Bass; Pickin’ The Cabbage; Calling All Bars; The Lone Arranger; Come On With The ‘Come On’; Ghost Of A Chance; Bye-Bye Blues; Boo-Wah, Boo-Wah; Cupid’s Nightmare; Are You Hep To The Jive?; Lonesome Nights; Willow Weep For Me; You Are The One In My Heart; Jonah Joins The Cab; Geechy Joe; Special Delivery; Take The ‘A’ Train; Hey, Doc; Blues In The Night; Tappin’ Off; A Smo-o-oth One; The Honeydripper; The Calloway Boogie; Ev’rybody Eats When They Come To My House; It Ain’t Necessarily So (79.25)

Calloway (v) with his orchestras featuring Lammar Wright, Reuben Reeve, Doc Cheatham, Irving Randolph, Mario Bauza, Shad Collins, Russell Smith, Paul Webster, Roger Jones, Ed Mullins, Johnny Letman, Jonah Jones, Dizzy Gillespie (t); DePriest Wheeler, Harry Wright, Claude Jones, Keg Johnson, Tyree Glenn, Quentin Jackson, Fred Robinson (tb); Arville Harris, Eddie Barefield, Bob Gibson, Charles Frazier, Sam ‘The Man’ Taylor, Bob Dorsey, Al Gibson, Rudy Powell (reeds); Jerry Blake, Hilton Jefferson, Walter ‘Foots’ Thomas, William Thornton Blue, Chauncey Haughton (as); Andrew Brown, Teddy McCrae, Ike Quebec, Chu Berry (ts); Al Morgan, Jimmy Smith (tu, b); Morris White (bj, g); Benny Payne (vib); Earres Prince, Benny Payne, Dave Rivera (p); Milt Hinton (b); Danny Baker (g); Leroy Maxie, Cozy Cole, Buford Oliver, Panama Francis (d).
Retrospective RTS 4414