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The Hi-De-Ho Man

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Album Review

Similar in some ways to a fabulous 1974 Columbia double LP bearing the same title, yet typical of many Internet-age reissue compilations, this grab bag of mid- to late-period Cab Calloway material comes with vintage posters, publicity photographs, and an informative biographical essay but no discographical information whatsoever. That means no recording dates, no personnel, no real context for where, when, or for which labels these recordings were made. Listeners who know nothing about Cab Calloway can now experience a smattering of his flashiest performances on the same superficial level as the record-buying public of the 1940s. Calloway himself would probably approve of this approach, since only passing reference is made to the presence of great instrumentalists like Dizzy Gillespie. Opening with a 1942 remake of his magnum hit, "Minnie the Moocher," this 26-track sampler touches upon some of Calloway's most inspired and a few of his more hackneyed moments on record, mingling hepcat masterpieces like "Two Blocks Down, Turn to the Left" and a smart rendition of Joe Liggins' "The Honeydripper" with Tennessee Ernie Ford's rockabilly-flavored "Shot Gun Boogie" and Sidney Lippman's misogynistic charade entitled "Your Voice." The best moments occur when Calloway digs into a number that he really enjoys, like "Hey Now! Hey Now!," "A Chicken Ain't Nothin' But a Bird," or "Everybody Eats When They Come to My House." His sophisticated interaction with a smooth vocal group billed as the Cabaliers on "I Want to Rock" and the quasi-operatic outbursts that open and close "The Hi-De-Ho Man" are superb. Historical oddities included here are a hotdog-simple tribute to Joe Louis and a musical segment from the 1943 motion picture Stormy Weather entitled "Geechie Joe."


Born: 25 December 1907 in Rochester, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

One of the great entertainers, Cab Calloway was a household name by 1932, and never really declined in fame. A talented jazz singer and a superior scatter, Calloway's gyrations and showmanship on-stage at the Cotton Club sometimes overshadowed the quality of his always excellent bands. The younger brother of singer Blanche Calloway (who made some fine records before retiring in the mid-'30s), Cab grew up in Baltimore, attended law school briefly, and then quit to try to make it as a singer and a...
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