It all kicked off for Cab Calloway back in 1931 even though his Orchestra previously known as The Missourians started going in 1930 when Cab took over the reins, it was the release of that all time song which today is still played and listened too by many, being “Minnie The Moocher” . Cab’s Orchestra had been opening for Duke Ellington around the same time as well performing with him in the most famous Jazz Club in history, The Cotton Club. Duke and his Orchestra often toured and had time off which was no problem for Cab as he then headlined at that Club which also broadcast it’s shows over the radio live, so many Americans were exposed to this wonderful style and approach Cab Calloway possessed. He was man of so many talents, not only did he sing, lead the orchestra, he danced like no other except for maybe Bojangles. Cab showed Michael Jackson how to do it with “The Buzz” because Cab was going backwards looooooong before Mike with his “Moonwalk”. Not only that Cab was wonderful on stage and nobody played “Sportin’ Life” from “Porgy and Bess” like Cab, after all having sung “Reefer Man with his Orchestra in the thirties, playing a dope peddler was right up Cab’s alley “so to speak” (the part was written with Cab in mind for the role), which he played on Broadway and toured throughout the time of the production during the fifties.
“The Hi De Ho Man” is another one of those Calloway songs that is instantly recognisable and many a different take Cab recorded with the tune, ( “Hi De Ho Miracle Man, Hi De Ho, Romeo and Juliet, and Hi De Ho Serenade”). “Kickin’ The Gong Around” was another Minnie, “Wah-Dee-Dah” ,” Zah Zuh Zah” were a couple more songs from many and all had one thing in common with the singing, being Scat which derived from Louis Armstrong’s influence. There was a term used by Cab Calloway to describe his music being Jive and there is plenty of that here, with a few ballads thrown in with the release of his 1960 album “Hi De Hi De Ho”. They all said at the time with the album’s reception, ”the originals were better” from his Big Band period in the thirties but once again, time has proven those critics wrong. They should of read from Cab’s “Hepsters Dictionary” which Cab to put together so all could speak or understand Jive talk. Some people are born with a gift commonly called charisma and Cab used this to great effect in all facets of his artistic skills which turned him into one hell of a showman.
The album backed by Cab’s Orchestra comprises many of his most famous song’s and all today are Jazz Standards with two song selections included that are from the Gershwins’ “Porgy And Bess” but it is the title “Hi De Ho Man” which opens the album with scat from beginning to end, delivered with plenty of that Cab gusto and one must realise the song’s opening scat is almost impossible to put in writing. Throughout the album the Orchestra’s backing vocals esp. during these Jive tracks provide a wonderful repetition throughout the Chorus’. “I’ll Be Around” is a beautiful Alec Wilder ballad being sung in a slight formal manner which just seems to make it even sweeter. “Summertime” the old chestnut of a tune from “Porgy and Bess” is given the perfect touch from Cab and although his character did not sing this one in the Production, Cab sure delivers it beautifully. Sportin’ Life (Porgy and Bess, Cab’s character) sings the next of the album’s tracks being “It Ain’t Necessarily So” and with a beautiful low verse and muted trumpet backing, co- joined by a much different raucous take of a chorus and even a bit scat thrown in by Cab for good measure and is another of the album’s delights. “Kickin’ The Gong Around” is the answer for “Minnie The Moocher” . The last track on the record’s first side is an absolutely full swing approach to that old Jazz classic “You Rascal You”. “Minnie The Moocher” opens side two with a wonderful rendition, followed by another beautiful ballad “I See a Million People”. Another all time Jazz classic is next, given a wonderful touch as well being one of Cab’s old hits, “Saint James Infirmary”. Cab had worked with Al Jolson and often when I hear “Stormy Weather” I sense Al’s influence but Cab had that Black American touch bringing a wonderful interpretation to this beautiful Jazz standard and even though it is hard to find an album highlight due to the fact all the songs are within, “Stormy Weather” just seems to always bring me a smile. “The Jumpin’ Jive” finishes up with “The Jim Jim jump is a jumpin’ jive, makes you hip hip on the mellow side, oh hop do do di, etc”
Classic Jazz from one of the original masters. Believe it or not, this is not currently available on cd but the record has been reissued. “Grab one before they all go” No matter how old you are, you will be smiling after.