Friday, February 13, 2009
Cab Calloway and the Nicholas Brothers - Jumpin Jive
Cabell "Cab" Calloway III (December 25, 1907 – November 18, 1994) was a famous American jazz singer and bandleader.
Calloway was a master of energetic scat singing and led one of the United States' most popular African American big bands from the start of the 1930s through the late 1940s. Calloway's band featured performers including trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Adolphus "Doc" Cheatham, saxophonists Ben Webster and Leon "Chu" Berry, New Orleans guitar ace Danny Barker, and bassist Milt Hinton. Calloway continued to perform until his death in 1994 at the age of 86.
Calloway was born in a middle-class family in Rochester, New York, on Christmas Day 1907 and lived there, until 1918, on Sycamore Street. He was later raised in Baltimore, Maryland. His father, Cabell Calloway II, was a lawyer and his mother, Martha Eulalia Reed, was a teacher and church organist. His parents recognized their son's musical talent and he began private voice lessons in 1922. He continued to study music and voice throughout his formal schooling. Despite his parents' and vocal teachers' disapproval of jazz, Calloway began frequenting and eventually performing in many of Baltimore's jazz clubs, where he was mentored by drummer Chick Webb and pianist Johnny Jones.
In 1931 he recorded his most famous song, "Minnie the Moocher". That song and "St. James Infirmary Blues" and "The Old Man Of The Mountain" were performed for the Betty Boop animated shorts Minnie the Moocher, Snow White and The Old Man of the Mountain, respectively. Through rotoscoping, Calloway not only gave his voice to these cartoons but his dance steps as well. He took advantage of this and timed his concerts in some communities with the release of the films in order to make the most of the attention. As a result of the success of "Minnie the Moocher" he became identified with its chorus, gaining the nickname "The Hi De Ho Man". He also performed in a series of short films for Paramount in the 1930s (Calloway and Ellington were featured on film more than any other jazz orchestras of the era). In 1943 he appeared in the high-profile 20th Century Fox musical film, Stormy Weather.