Saturday, March 30, 2013

Tubby Hayes and Tin Tin Deo

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

While the editorial staff prepares a more detailed feature on Tubbs and his music, we thought we’d revisit “how it all began” by using his performance of Tin Tin Deo as the soundtrack to the following video montage which salutes some of England’s earlier Jazz record companies.

Recorded in London in December, 1959 and subsequently issued on CD by Jasmine records as Tubby Hayes – “The Eight Wonder” [JASCD 611], the idea, according to Tony Hall who produced the date, “was to use pianist Terry Shannon, bassist Jeff Clyne and drummer Phil Seamen in their primary role as an accompanying rhythm section thus allowing Tubby to stretch out and just blow with no restrictions whatever on the time.”

Richard Cook and Brian Morton had this to say about Tubby’s efforts on “The Eight Wonder” [JASCD 611], in the Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, 6th Ed.:

“The Eight Wonder gets top rating [4 stars]… it is perhaps Hayes’ most eloquent showcase. It’s true that the virtuosity of Tin Tin Deo comes out of his horn all too easily; almost as if it were a routine that he’d mastered without thinking, but it’s hard not to enjoy the spectacle of … the tough-minded improvising.”

Hayes recorded prolifically, but the quality of these recordings are uneven at best.

Cook and Morton perhaps offer an explanation for this paradox when they observe:

“Tubby Hayes has often been lionized as the greatest saxophonist Britain ever produced. He is a fascinating but problematical player.

Having put together a big, rumbustious tone and a deliv­ery that features sixteenth notes spilling impetuously out of the horn, Hayes often left a solo full of brilliant loose ends and ingen­ious runs that led nowhere in particular.

Most of his recordings, while highly entertaining as exhibitions of sustained energy, tend to wobble on the axis of Hayes's creative impasse: having got this facility together, he never seemed sure of what to do with it in the studio, which may be why his studio records ultimately fall short of the masterpiece he never came to make.”

While I agree in the main with Cook and Morton’s assessment of Tubby’s frequently unrealized potential due to what they describe as his “creative impasse,” there are no road blocks or detours ahead in the solo he lays down on Tin Tin Deo.

See what you think.

[Incidentally, for those of you interested in such things, Tin Tin Deo is in the minor with a Latin Jazz feel to all but the bridge. It is of an unusual construction – 48 bars in length comprising two 16 bar sections, a middle 8 in 4/4 time and a final 8 which reverts to the second 8 measures of the 16 bar sections.]

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Capitol Records – A Towering Success

© -  Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

Sometimes it’s fun to look back and see how much things can change in a person’s lifetime.

Digital sound files may have been a nascent idea as the second half of the 20th century began, but recorded music was still analog-based.

The music was preserved on tape and then transferred to vinyl by record companies who owned the rights to the music.

Cover art or photography was commissioned, someone wrote the notes and compiled the track information for the back cover and off went the newly minted 33 1/3 rpm long-playing records to a wholesale distributor who then made them available to retail outlets.

There are still recording companies today, some very large and others of the boutique variety which are usually devoted to a specific style of music. Much of today’s music is self-produced.

Almost all of today’s music is recorded digitally and distributed primarily through compact disc or some form of downloadable file-sharing system.

I doubt that the following story that John Tynan, the then West Coast Editor of Downbeat magazine, recounts of the first 15-years or so of Capitol Records’ existence could be written today.

And that’s what makes it so much fun to read.

What a difference a half-century makes!

© -  John Tynan/Downbeat magazine, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

"WHEN A RECORD COMPANY erects a $2,000,000 temple to its own greatness, it's time to probe the where­fore.

About the time of the outbreak of World War II in Europe, a quiet young Iowan named Glenn Wallichs was oper­ating a small recording studio at 5205 Hollywood Boulevard. With the country just pulling out of the depression, things were beginning to improve a bit business-wise, but it was still a scuffle for many small enterprises such as Wallichs'.

Sharing the premises with the record­ing studio, even to using the same tele­phone, was a radio announcer who owned a record store he called "The Stomp Shop." His name was Al Jarvis. Also operating from the same location — and using that same serviceable phone — were Charles Emge and Ward Humphrey the publishers of a lively weekly magazine, Tempo, which chron­icled the music activities of the west coast throughout the '30s. From this rather unseemly beginning grew Cap­itol Records.

WITH THE TURN of the decade Wallichs decided to open a record store. To this end he entered into partnership with his father, Oscar, who at the time owned an appliance shop in Hollywood. Together they launched Music City.

Music City quickly became hangout for assorted songwriters, pluggers, working musicians. Anyone connected in any way with the music business in Hollywood inevitably headquartered there on a cracker barrel basis.

One such songwriter, Johnny Mercer, who made Music City his base of social and professional operations, had by 1941 formed a fast friendship with Wallichs. The epoch-making negotia­tions between Mercer and Wallichs that led to Capitol's founding reportedly went something like this:

Wallichs: "Johnny, how would you like to start a record company?"

Mercer: "I wouldn't. But I know someone who would."

Wallichs: "Who is he? Can you get hold of him?"

Mercer: "Name's Buddy DeSylva. He's head of production at Para­mount."

Wallichs: "Let's get together with him and talk this thing over."

B. G. (Buddy) DeSylva did indeed want to start a record company. The three pooled resources, with DeSylva putting up $25,000 to kick the venture off. Wallichs contributed his technical and organizational know-how, and Mercer's offering was equally priceless  — his genius for writing good songs.

SO IT WAS DONE. In July of 1942 Capitol Records elected as its first offi­cers, B. G. DeSylva, president; Johnny Mercer, vice president; Glenn Wallichs, general manager.

What followed belongs a little in the realm of fantasy. Capitol first releases consisted of six sides, among them Cow Cow Boogie with music by Benny Carter and lyrics by Don Raye and Gene DePaul. Ella Mae Morse did the rocking vocal with the Freddy Slack orchestra. For anyone who has been conscious of popular American music over the last 15 years, nothing more need be said about Cow Cow Boogie. Along with Mercer's Strip Polka, it virtually put Capitol Records in busi­ness.

With that extraordinary acumen that enabled him to see the potential in a west coast record company interested in producing well recorded, good pop material, Wallichs immediately inno­vated another policy that was to revolu­tionize the marketing strategy of phon­ograph records. He announced the plan of providing disc jockeys throughout the country with complimentary copies of all Capitol records. The idea proved so successful that soon the other big companies followed suit.

THE YOUNG FIRM grew phenome­nally. Soon the demand for Capitol's product was so great that an agree­ment was reached for the Scranton Record Co. to supply limited amount of vital shellac in addition to that which already was contracted for in Holly­wood.

In the first six months of Capitol's existence, hits like Ella Mae Morse's Mr. Five By Five, Elk's Parade by Bobby Sherwood, and Johnny Mercer's I Lost My Sugar in Salt Lake City further consolidated the company's economic position. Branch offices were opened in Chicago and New York, and the following year two more were started in Atlanta and Dallas.

The second year of Capitol's life was marked, among other things, by the in­troduction of another new factor in the record business, the News Maga­zine. In addition, the careers of Jo Stafford, Nat Cole, Peggy Lee, Stan Kenton, and songwriter Dick Whiting's young daughter, Margaret, were spawned on the label in 1943.

No big-time record company is with­out its quota of album releases, and Capitol had big-time aspirations by 1944. A package titled Songs by John­ny Mercer was released to meet with immediate success, shortly followed by a second album aimed at the growing kiddy market, Stories for Children By the Great Gildersleeve.

WAR'S END saw an increasing ex­pansion by the label. In 1945, 14 albums were released and marketed to be joined by 19 more in 1946, one of which proved to be the biggest selling item in the children's field, Bozo at the Circus. The same year also witnessed the inau­guration of the Capitol Transcriptions firm and the outright purchase of Scranton Record Co. for $2,000,000. Capitol went on the market as a result, issuing its first stock April 30, 1946, offering 95,000 shares of common stock.

When the American Federation of Musicians imposed a ban on all re­cording by its members in 1947, Capi­tol plunged into a furious whirl of re­cording activity before the pre-announced deadline, thereby obtaining a huge backlog of sides. Among these discs, which turned into smash sellers, were Manana by Peggy Lee, Nature Boy by Nat Cole, and Pee Wee Hunt's Twelfth Street Rag.

One of the more remarkable facts about this remarkable business enter­prise is that the most profitable year in Capitol's history was 1948, a gloomy year indeed for the entire rest of the industry. Capitol's sales spiraled to $16,862,450, with a profit of $1,315,847, and this bumper year saw them extend their market to foreign countries.

THE FIRST FIVE years of the 1950s were a continuation of the success story, climax of which was reached last year with the purchase of 96.4% of Capitol Records, Inc., by the British firm of Electric and Musical Industries, Ltd., for $8,500,000, with Glenn E. Wallichs retained as president of the company.

In 13 years Capitol has risen from a less than audacious dream given ut­terance in a record store to Big BIG Business in the commercial music world. With its new international head­quarters completed and occupied this month, the Capitol Tower stands above Hollywood and Vine as a monument to the three men who begot the enterprise out of their creative talents, drive, initiative, and imagination — the late Buddy DeSylva, Glenn Wallichs, and tunesmith Johnny Mercer.”

Capitol Bandwagon Is Booming

“Should big bands ever rise to the peak of popularity they once knew, no one could be happier about it than Capitol Records. For they have assembled the most imposing list of top name orchestral talent to be found on any label.

And even if the music world never again experiences the phenomenon of bands leading the record-selling parade, Capitol is evidently quite satisfied with the results its stable is achieving even now.

Look at some of the crews now doing their waxing for Cap:

Les Brown, Harry James, Ray Anthony, Billy May-Sam Donahue, Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, and Ken Hanna.

In addition, they have the big-selling Benny Goodman BG in Hi-Fi album still going for them, and though Duke Ellington recently left the company, there are discs of his still in the catalog as well as some yet-unreleased sides in the bank.

Plus which Guy Lombardo is now in the Capitol ranks — a man who sells steadily and well.” [!]

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Albert Namatjira and Chet Baker – “The Wind”

© -  Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“Superficially, his paintings give the appearance of conventional European landscapes, but Namatjira painted with 'country in mind' and continually returned to sites imbued with ancestral associations. The repetition, detailed patterning and high horizons—so characteristic of his work—blended Aboriginal and European modes of depiction.”
- Sylvia Kleinert, Australian Dictionary of Biography

“Chet Baker was a man who breathed beautiful music.”
- Ira Gitler

I was having a difficult time finding suitable music to use as the audio track to the video tribute to Albert Namatjira that appears at the end of this piece.

And then I happened on trumpeter Chet Baker’s version of Russ Freeman’s The Wind and it suddenly just all came together.

The title of Russ’ tune and the lightness of its melody seemed like the perfect fit for Albert’s watercolors of the windswept Australian landscape. The Wind seems almost audible when viewing Albert’s paintings.

Russ Freeman wrote music for and performed with Chet for many years in the 1950’s, both in clubs and on a number of records. Johnny Mandel’s string arrangement marvelously enhances the melody that Russ wrote for The Wind.

Chet’s playing nearly always leaves me shaking my head at its originality.

Ira Gitler expresses the reasons why in his insert notes to Chet Baker with Strings: “The way he approached his art transcended any mechanical thought processes. The notes and phrases were at his lips and fingertips without his consciously having to think about them. The overall effect imparted by his delivery makes one feel this way. He was a man who breathed beautiful music.”

As Ted Gioia comments in his book about West Coast Jazz: “Despite the travails of his offstage life, Baker stands as one of the finest soloists that Jazz ever produced.”

Gene Lees declared: “I consider Chet Baker an enormously under-rated musician. I didn’t always get the point of his understated music. But one day I came to love the gentle, lyrical beauty of his playing and the trusting sensitivity of his singing.”

Charles Champlin, the late entertainment editor of The Los Angeles Times mused: “He and his contemporaries played the score for the Los Angeles I knew. In its go-ahead optimism, its mobility and its congeniality, it reflected for me the excitement and sense of promise of Southern California itself.”

Bernie Fleischer, President of the American Federation of Musicians Hollywood, CA Local 47 from 1986-1991 maintained: “If genius can be defined as knowing more than one could possibly learn, Chet Baker was a true genius.”

Chet Baker sensed and felt his way through Jazz. His was not a studied conception, yet he could play sometimes with amazing accomplishment.

As some critics have argued, he did stick to the middle range of the horn, but so what? If you want to listen to bass clef, go hear a trombone player.

Chet played the middle range of the trumpet with a quiet beauty and an inventiveness that simply have no place in the upper range of the instrument. Why be shrill and scream-like, when you can play scintillatingly long lines with an almost Lennie Tristano like logic in the pretty register of the trumpet?

Perhaps Albert Namatjira’s watercolors and Chet Baker’s trumpet playing go together so well because each, in its own way, was a modest proposition.

Albert’s work focuses on landscapes that “pull” the readers focus in-and-out of them. His images are at once arresting and simple. Much like Chet’s music, the viewer takes away an impression of moderation, restraint, and self-possession from looking at them.

Albert Namatjira [1902-1957] was an Aboriginal or indigenous Australian artist who was born. into the Arrernte community at the Hermannsburg Lutheran Mission, near Alice Springs, Northern Territory in the Western MacDonnell Ranges of the subcontinent.

He was one Australia’s most notable artists. His work, watercolor landscapes of Central Australia, is represented in all of the Australian State art galleries.

Namatjira met Australian artist Rex Battarbee who visited Hermannsburg in 1934. Battarbee tutored Namatjira in the western tradition of painting and helped him to organize his first exhibition in Melbourne in 1936. This exhibition was a success and Namatjira was encouraged to exhibit his work in Adelaide and Sydney. Other exhibitions of his work followed, especially during the 1950s.

The capacity of light to flatten, fragment, illuminate or hide the forms that comprise the land, as perceived by the eye at unique moments in time, were not the only qualities that inspired Albert Namatjira. Solid matter that we know to be red, brown or green is seen by the eye as mauve, purple or blue when viewed from a distance. The steep rays of the noonday sun falling directly into a narrow gorge can change subtle shadows into a vibrant orange within a matter of minutes. Sunrise and sunset ignite solid matter into fire.

Namatjira's early paintings of mountains rely on alternate placement of light and dark areas within broad, relatively flat shapes, to establish the effect of the sun in defining its unique topography and enclosing folds. Later works go on to explore the complex ways in which light both shapes and dissolves three-dimensional form. Namatjira achieves this through the introduction of linear patterns that intersect as they curve around the mountain's perimeters and sweep down its slopes to establish the illusion of shadows.

Like Chet Baker’s solos, Namatjira’s work is defined by allusions and changing patterns of textures; it’s constantly “moving” if such a thing can be said about an art form that is portrayed in a one-dimensional setting.

See what you think of Albert’s art and Chet music together; two “naturals,” each in their own way.

[Click on the “X” to close out of the ads.]

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Human Voice As The Ultimate Jazz Instrument

I love the sonority of all instruments in a Jazz setting, but sometimes I think that nothing is more emotionally intriguing in a Jazz groove than the human voice, especially with it is inflected with a bossa nova beat and the lyrics are sung in Portuguese by Ivan Lins, whose music is one of the joys of my life.

Judge for yourself.

[The video-taping is quite professional so you my wish to play this one at full screen.]

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Goldberg’s Variation

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“The Goldberg  Variations utilize the Sarabande from Anna Magdalena Bach's
notebook as a passacaille—that is, only its bass progression is duplicated in the varia­tions, where indeed it is treated with suf­ficient rhythmic flexibility to meet the harmonic contingencies of such diverse contrapuntal structures as a canon upon every degree of the diatonic scale, two fughettas, and even a quodlibet (the super­position of street-songs popular in Bach's times).
Such alterations as are necessary do not in any way impair the gravitational compulsion which this masterfully propor­tioned ground exerts upon the wealth of melodic figurations which subsequently adorn it. Indeed, this noble bass binds each variation with the inexorable assurance of its own inevitability.”[Emphasis, mine]
- Glenn Gould, concert pianist

At the conclusion of this piece, I have re-posted a video retrospective of the artwork of Clifton Karhu because I wanted to dwell a bit more on the technical virtuosity of the music that accompanies it as played by the Joris Roelofs Quartet.  [Karhu - 1927-2007 - lived and worked in Japan for many years and drew his inspiration from the traditional Japanese woodblock print masters of the 19th century.]

The musicianship on this recording is of such a high quality that it does justice to the roots in modern Jazz from which it draws its influence – the “school” of Jazz founded by pianist-composer Lennie Tristano and his main collaborators, alto saxophonist Lee Konitz and tenor saxophonist, Warne Marsh.

The super cool, deeply harmonically and very intellectual style of Jazz that Lennie, Lee and Warne played did not find very many, subsequent devotees, although contemporaneous musicians like pianist Alan Broadbent and alto saxophonist and flutist Gary Foster could be said to be somewhat reflective of its tenets.

I hope to have more to say about Alan and Gary’s collaborations in a future profile about Gary.

This JazzProfile derives it’s title from The Goldberg Variations, “one of the monuments of keyboard literature” which was published in 1742 while Johann Sebastian Bach [1685-1750] held the title of Polish Royal and Saxon electoral court-composer.

Glenn Gould’s 1955 Columbia Masterpiece Performances [MYK-38479] recording of The Goldberg Variations never fails to leave me shaking my head in amazement at the grandeur and scope of Bach’s conception and Gould’s pianistic talent in accomplishing it.

But although the music on the audio track to the Karhu video tribute may be said to be representative of both the Tristano school of Jazz and J. S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations, particularly in its use of bass clef figures played by the piano and the bass [see above quotation by Glenn Gould], it is very much its own music.

And what music it is – commanding, lively and full of energy.

The tune is entitled The Rules and was composed by New York-based pianist Aaron Goldberg. It forms part of the music on the Introducing the Joris Roloefs Quintet  CD [Materials Records MRE-023-2].

Joris, a rising young star on the European Jazz scene, came to New York to record this album along with Aaron, bassist Matt Penman and drummer Ari Hoenig.

The Rules is based on a tonal center which is interlaced throughout its performance by the use of a six-note phrase that Aaron carries, primarily, with his left-hand, and, at times, in unison with bassist Penman to bring added emphasis.

The constant repetition makes the phrase very insistent but all of the soloists do a masterful job of bobbing and weaving in and around it without ever being overcome by it.

The sustained intensity that the group maintains really consumes the listener; one keeps expecting it to breakout at some point, but it never does.

In the absence of any means to record them, some experts maintain that J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations are really Bach’s improvisations put to pen and ink.

While listening to Aaron’s recorded solo on The Tunes, I began wondering what future pianists might make of his improvisations if they, too, were to be “notated” for posterity?

Obviously these notations would not be as complex as the knuckle-busters Bach composed, and yet, in their own way, perhaps just as challenging and interesting.

There are three solos on The Rules, but the solo order is unusual: piano, then drums [!] with the lead instrument, Joris’ alto sax, soloing last before the group returns to the theme to close out the piece.

Each is a long improvisation that makes great use of space. There are no chord progressions to be run or melodic frameworks to navigate or modal scales to set a course through. The music literally has to be created from the ground up from a very limited foundation. Such are The Rules to The Rules.

But make no mistake. This is not “Free Jazz” with the worst connotations that references to that 1960’s style can arouse. And it is not an exercise in sterile intellectualism. The music is formed in the minds of the musicians using the repetitive six-note phrase as a point of departure.

This is some of the most powerful and emotional Jazz you’ve ever experienced.

Ari Hoenig’s solo reminds me of drummer Shelly Manne’s axiom that “the hands should not rule the way you play the instrument.” He meant by this that the drummer should play music first and not show off technique. Of course, Shelly had both, and so does Ari, who plays one heck of a drum solo on this performance.

The Rules ends in an explosion of sound and with what musicians refer to as a “surprise ending.”

As Jazz moves forward in the 21st Century, players such as Aaron, Joris, Matt and Ari will not only add their brilliant improvisational ideas to its legacy, but also bring to it, an enormous quantity of technical skills which with to execute them.

The Jazz Gods must be smiling.

I certainly am.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Henry Mancini – “Making Yourself As You Go”

© -  Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“If modern jazz becomes indelibly linked with manslaughter, murder, mayhem, wise­cracking private eyes and droll policemen, the brunt of the responsibility must be borne by composer Henry Mancini. Be­cause of him the point is rapidly being reached where no self-respecting killer would consider pulling the trigger without a suitable jazz background.

Seriously, Henry Mancini has become a pacesetter. Immediately after the first episode of the TV series "Peter Gunn," Mancini's modern jazz background score became a topic of general conversation. The Music from Peter Gunn, his first RCA Victor album (LPM/LSP-1956), rocketed into the nation's number one best-selling spot with the muzzle velocity of a police positive. Various recordings of the main theme music became top single records.

With all this excitement, it was inevitable that others should follow Mancini's lead. TV detectives now swash, buckle and make love to the strains of modern jazz.”
- Bill Olofson, liner notes to More Music From Peter Gunn [RCA LPM-2040]

Had it not been for a chance meeting with producer-director Blake Edwards, I daresay that Henry Mancini may not have had the opportunity to fulfill his lifelong dream of writing music for the movies.

There was no television when the dream first took shape in Henry’s mind after his father took him to see Cecil B. DeMille’s movie version of The Crusades.

The year was 1935. Henry was eleven-years old.

In the 23-years between that fateful day at the Lowe’s Penn Theater in Pittsburg, PA  and bumping into Blake as he was coming out of the Universal Studios barber shop in North Hollywood, CA, Henry Mancini had become a masterful composer-arranger. He did so with a minimum of formal education; essentially by learning through doing.

As the late, writer Ray Bradbury once put it: “You make yourself as you go.”

After serving as a rifleman in World War II,  Mancini married and, at his wife Ginny’s suggestion, he relocated to southern California to pursue his dream.  Once there, he landed a job in the music department at Universal Pictures.

Henry did every job imaginable at Universal’s music room from copying scores to writing incidental music to even writing scores for forgettable-at-the-time-later-to-become-cult-classic-“B”-films like The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Henry, too, might have been forgotten if he hadn’t been for the advent of television as a popular form of entertainment in the 1950s.

And, a rendezvous with obscurity might have loomed even larger for Henry had he not run into Blake Edwards, an old acquaintance, that fateful day in 1958 on the Universal back lot.

What’s the old adage: “I’d rather be lucky than good[?]”

Henry Mancini was a couple of years younger than Blake at the time of there chance meeting [36 and 38, respectively].

The studio system that maintained staff orchestras and staff composer-arrangers was coming to an end and Mancini has just lost his job. He had a wife and three children to support.

As they were parting company, Blake asked Henry if he would be interested in doing a TV show with him.

“Sure,” said Mancini, “what’s the name of it?”

Edwards said “It’s called Peter Gunn.”

Mancini asked: “What is it, a Western?”

Edwards, replied: “You’ll see.”

The rest is history.

Starring Craig Stevens as the stylish private-eye, Peter Gunn was to become one of the most successful series in that genre.

Thanks to Mancini’s genius, it would also lead to major changes in how music was written for television and the movies.

For Peter Gunn, Henry Mancini wrote the first full score in television history.

Both Blake Edwards and Henry Mancini went on to have illustrious television and movie careers that resulted in fame and fortune, distinction and awards, and the comforts of a satisfying and stylish life.

But for me,  the epitome Henry Mancini’s composing and arranging always began and ended with his exciting and energetic work on the music for Peter Gunn.

The Jazz pulse with which he infused the music for that TV series has influenced and informed my Jazz consciousness for over fifty years.

One of my great treats in life is to return to this music and savor its timeless brilliance.

Much of the music that Mancini wrote for Peter Gunn features small group Jazz, but Blue Steel, which is from the second album – More Music for Peter Gunn – is composed for a full big band, one that certainly roars on this track.

Led by a trumpet section of Conrad Gozzo [lead], Pete Candoli [soloist], Frank Beach and Graham Young – can you imagine?! – and an orchestra that also includes five trombones, four French Horns, four woodwinds and four rhythm, Blue Steel is a veritable explosion in sound.

Hank’s music always seems to bubble with enthusiasm and humor; its bright, bouncy and bops along.

Blue Steel is only 3:39 minutes in length and yet it is brimming over with compositional devices – vamps, interludes and riffs that launch the soloists; half-step modulations and dynamics that are constantly building in the background until Hank rushes the band effervescently to the foreground; glissandos that probe and punctuate the arrangement; a throbbing walking bass that starts and stops to heighten suspense; vibes-guitar-piano playing mice-running-along-the-piano-keys figures to create a furtive sonority; flute “choirs” interspersed with vibes and then with a piano solo; a trumpet solo that soars over bass trombone pedal tones and ascending, and then, descending French Horns [see if you can catch Pete Candoli’s reference to Your Getting to Be a Habit With Me in his solo].

And just when you think the band is going to explode, Hank brings in a fanfare played by the orchestra in unison with Conrad Gozzo screaming out three, high note blasts to close the piece with a rush of orchestral adrenalin.

This is the music of a master orchestrator at work. Few arrangers have ever called upon a greater palette of colors in their arrangements. Mancini music always seem to have a mysterious gift of melody to it which provides him with a strong, inner core to build his scores upon.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Evening At Shelly's Manne Hole in ... 1970!

The following video was filmed at Shelly's in 1970 with Bob Cooper on tenor saxophone, Hampton Hawes on piano, Ray Brown on bass, and, of course, Shelly Manne on drums.

The audio and video quality are somewhat lacking by today's standards, but this is over 30 minutes of great Jazz by musicians in a setting, neither of which, exists anymore.

The three tunes are Ray's Blues in the Basement, Stella by Starlight and Milestones.

Music from a time gone by, but music that is timeless.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cab, Alyn and Biographies - C.A.B.

© -  Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“Duke's replacement at the Cotton Club, Cab Calloway’s … scat-jive vocals, epitomized in the "hi-de-ho" call-and-response effects on his hit "Minnie the Moocher," delighted audiences. Calloway had led the Alabamians in Chicago and, later, the Missourians in New York, and in 1929 had appeared in the revue Hot Chocolates, before securing the coveted Cotton Club job. Incorporating a heavy dose of novelty songs and scat vehicles into a more conventional hot jazz sound, Calloway achieved a celebrity—and record sales—to rival Ellington's at the time.”
- Ted Gioia, The History of Jazz [New York: Oxford, 1997, p. 130]

“At his very first session - in July 1930, with an astonishingly virtuosic vocal on 'St Louis Blues' – Cab Calloway served notice that a major jazz singer was ready to challenge Louis Armstrong with an entirely different style….

The lexicon of reefers, Minnie the Moocher and Smokey Joe, kicking gongs around and - of course - the fabulous language of hi-de-ho would soon have become tiresome if it hadn't been for the leader's boundless energy and ingenious invention: his vast range, from a convincing bass to a shrieking falsetto, has remained unsurpassed by any male jazz singer, and he transforms material that isn't so much trite as empty without the investment of his personality.”
-Richard Cook and Brian Morton, The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, 6th Ed.

“Many jazz historians with a purist and pro-instrumental bias have ignored or dismissed Calloway and his orchestra as musically irrelevant. And insofar as others have dealt with the band at all, they have generally picked their way through its several hundred recordings, snobbishly culling only the instrumental solos as being worthy of comment, usually by Chu Berry, Dizzy Gillespie, and one or two others. This is eminently unfair and historically unjustifiable on sev­eral counts.

First of all, Calloway was a magnificent singer, quite definitely the most un­usually and broadly gifted male singer of the thirties. Second, considering his enormous popularity, and therefore the temptation to cater to the basest of mass tastes, Calloway's singing—and even his choice of material (when all is said and don) is of far higher caliber than any other male vocalist's (with the exception
of Jimmy Rushing and some of the great blues singers of the period). Moreover Calloway, amazingly, even in his most extravagant vocal antics, never left the bounds of good taste. It was as though he had a built-in mechanism that kept him from turning corny.
Third, he was a true jazz musician and as such surrounded himself with a real jazz orchestra, something no other band-leading vocalist cared (or managed) to do. In that regard, though he had every excuse to do otherwise, his perfor­mances—especially in clubs and dances, as opposed to recordings with their absolute time limits—were always liberally sprinkled with instrumental solos and ensembles, more so the more popular he became (in this respect a deliberate reversal of the usual trend).
- Gunther Schuller, The Swing Era: The Development of Jazz, 1930-1945 [New York: Oxford, 1989, pp. 329-330]

Okay, you can groan if you like, but I worked long and hard to get the title of this piece to abbreviate to C.A.B.

I wanted it to reflect the fun and joy that was Cab Calloway’s life and the pleasure I gained from reading Alyn Shipton’s splendid biography about this too-soon-forgotten figure in Jazz history.

This opening paragraph from Alyn Shipton’s Introduction and Acknowledgements to Hi-De-Ho: The Life of Cab Calloway [New York: Oxford University Press, 2010, also now available in paperback] provides this overview of Cab’s achievements and his significance in American contemporary music.

“Clad in white tie and tails, dancing energetically, waving an oversized baton, and singing "Minnie the Moocher," Cab Calloway is one of the most iconic figures in popular music. He was the first great African American vocalist in jazz who specialized in singing without also doubling on an instrument, and he was also a conductor and bandleader who assembled a series of remarkably consistent hard-swinging ensembles. By always striving to hire the best musicians and arrangers, he took the art of big band playing for­ward consistently from the start of the 1930s to the end of the 1940s. The tenor saxophonist Chu Berry made some of his finest records in the Calloway band, as did trumpeter Jonah Jones, saxophonists Ike Quebec and Eddie Barefield, and drummer Cozy Cole. At its peak in the late 1930s and early 1940s, Callo­way’s was the highest earning African American orchestra and, by virtue of its biggest hit "Minnie the Moocher," also one of the few to have broken through to the general public with a million-selling record. People loved Cab and his antics for what he was, irrespective of color. In later life, Cab transformed into an elegant and sophisticated star of the musical theater, but from the 1930s to the 1990s, he never forgot how to "hi-de-ho," and win over a crowd.”

Alan follows with this next sentence which I’m sure that many of us can relate to:

“Before I began work on this book I had only a scant awareness of the full and impressive range of Calloway's achievements.”

But now, thanks to Alyn Shipton’s detailed research and great skills as a storyteller, one can more fully understand and enjoy the fascinating exploits of Cab Calloway, one of the most creative entertainers in the history of American popular music.

The operative word here that Mr. Shipton’s work brings home to the reader is – entertainer. For when Cab was at the height of his career in the 1930’s and 1940’s, people expected to be entertained by popular music and that’s exactly what they got - and then some - from experiencing Cab and his orchestra of first-rate musicians.

Hi-De-Ho: The Life of Cab Calloway begins by providing a look back at the atmosphere of the times in which Cab’s personality and interests were formed with a description of the Baltimore and Chicago of the first quarter of the 20th century.

Almost from the start, what Ted Gioia refers to as Cab’s “eccentric individualism” displayed itself as he grew into a street smart kid in Baltimore [1907-1927] and a very hip young man in [Chicago 1927-1930] who had a knack for seeing and for being seen.

Aspects of Cab’s nature are on display in all their glory in the following anecdote as shared by Cab’s daughter, Camay, in a 2005 interview with Mr. Shipton:

“When he was in high school he was a show-off. Because he was playing basketball, [and] he was very handsome, all the girls were around him, and before he left school, he got a car, because he had all these little jobs. He played the drums, but he also walked horses, sold newspapers, he was hustling, selling different things around town, so this meant he had enough money to buy a car. He told me how he parked it one day right in front of the school, when they were having this big assembly. As it began, the principal got up and asked if the teacher who had parked out front would kindly go out and move his car, because it was in a restricted area. There was silence in the auditorium, then my father stands up and the whole auditorium erupts, with kids shouting "Go Cab go!" as he walks his very hip walk up the aisle to go out and move his car.” [p. 12]

Always a great adapter, Cab’s vocal style owes much to his sister Blanche’s vocal experimentation as Mr. Shipton explains in his chapter Chicago High Life 1927-1930:

“The time that Cab and Blanche had spent together on the road with Plan­tation Days had given him an opportunity to learn many aspects of stagecraft and presentation from her firsthand…. She was, according to Cab’s grandson Christopher Calloway Brooks, who knew her in old age, "a truly electrifying performer.” Her wild dancing and uninhibited singing were undoubtedly a prototype for much of Cab s own act. She made a conscious break with the tradition estab­lished by the classic blues singers such as Bessie Smith or Ma Rainey who stood forward on-stage and sang over the footlights directly at the audience, irrespective of whether they were being supported by a pianist or a full pit orchestra. Instead, Blanche developed numbers in which she interacted directly with members of her supporting band. Cab was later to do this by encouraging his instrumentalists— and thereby his audience — to shout back verbal responses in answer to his lyrics. The most famous example was to be “Minnie the Moocher" but he also created routines in which he alternated musical phrases with his sidemen such as "The Scat Song." The immediate precedent for this was to be found in Blanche's act. In the surviving early mov­ies of Cab at work, we can no doubt see plenty of nuances directly derived from her vocal and terpsichorean performances.” [p. 19]

Through a rapid sequence of events, Cab climbed to the forefront of the New York entertainment world in 1931 after he began fronting the orchestra [then known as The Missourians] that would replace Duke Ellington at the Cotton Club in uptown, Harlem. Interestingly, Irving Mills, Duke Ellington’s manager would also become Cab’s manager after he began work at The Cotton Club.

Mr. Shipton offers this view of Cab’s rise to “fame and [relative] fortune” in his chapter entitled Cotton Club Stomp, 1930-1931:

“The year 1931 saw Cab using his base at the Cotton Club to begin his relent­less climb to national and then international stardom. Dressed in his white tie and tails, his long straight hair ruffled into a prototype Beatle mop, and con­ducting with an oversized baton, Cab Calloway crystallized his persona as an entertainer at the club. An accurate impression of how he appeared at the time can be seen in the 1934 movie Cab Calloway's Hi-De-Ho, in which his act was filmed on a mock-up of the Cotton Club stage. He holds the viewer's attention with effortless authority. Singing “Zaz Zuh Zaz," his vocal gymnas­tics are matched by exaggerated gestures, and between the vocalizing he moves spectacularly—running the gamut of jazz dance devices from frenetic movement to slow-drag walking. Indeed his movements drew on the entire lexicon of vernacular African American dance, with allusions to nineteenth-century survivals such as buck and wing alongside comparatively recent fads like the black bottom. His gestures and his vocals were designed to bring his band — and thereby his audience — into the act as well, highlighting the differ­ent sections of musicians, and encouraging them to shout or sing a response to his words.

As he throws his head back and projects his voice, displaying his distinctive perfect teeth, his singing is marked by a complete lack of inhibition, and a freedom that matches the finest jazz instrumentalists of the age. At twenty-six years old, when this film was made, he had used his first three years of working regularly at the Cotton Club to consolidate a stage personality that cut through racial and class boundaries. It turned him into an entertainer who connected with all of American society, not just the African American public who bought his discs, or the well-heeled white pleasure seekers who defied the Depression and flocked to Harlem to hear him in person.” [p. 50]

Some of the insider dealings, trials and tribulations of staffing and traveling with a big band in the 1930’s, particularly with an all-black big band, are graphically detailed in Mr. Shipton’s chapter, Harlem Fuss, 1931-1933:

"Cab was making changes," recalled guitarist Danny Barker. "From 1931 he . . . fired one Missourian of the original band at a time. Rumor says he fired them because when he first joined the band they resented him. [It was] a process: to break up a clique in a band. You get a clique in a band, that's trouble." [p.54]

“It was well known that some 1930s swing bands had influential inner cliques that dictated their entire repertoire and policy, including decisions on who the featured soloists would be, and who was to be marked out for promotion.” [p.55]

“In 1932, the band’s work settled into a stable pattern. It would work at the Cotton Club for several months on end, and then take off for one or two ten-week tours during the course of the year.” [p.69]

One of these tours involving stops at “resorts” in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina broke down terribly.

As Mr. Shipton explains: “Although Cab and most of his men had previously toured the South and Southwest in some combination or another, it was a shock to return there after the high life they had enjoyed in Manhattan. … Most of the musicians who made that tour had stories of the privations the band endured. … In these adverse conditions, Cab came into his own as a leader [helping to militate and mitigate the unpleasant conditions]. … The result was that Cab forged a bond between himself and his men.”

In his next chapter Zaz Zuh Zaz, 1933-1934, Mr. Shipton describes how Irving Mills became Cab’s new manager and sent the band on a 1933-1934 European Tour [with mixed results], takes us with Cab on a series of crisscrossing tours of the United States [On The Road Again,1934-37] during which Cab was to become a national sensation and then moves on to provide in-depth descriptions of the time spent on the Calloway Band by its two most famous Jazz soloists: tenor saxophonist Chu Berry [Chuberry Jam 1937-39] and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie [Dizzy Atmosphere 1939-1941].

All death is dreadful and untimely, but what made tenor saxophonist Chu Berry’s even more so was his relatively young age [33] when he lost his life in a car accident, his closeness to everyone in the Calloway Band, especially to Cab, and the fact that Chu’s brilliance as a musician was transforming Cab’s music into a full-fledged Jazz Orchestra.

As Mr. Shipton notes: “It was the tragic demise of one of the greatest saxophone talents in Jazz, and also the man who had been a key element in the gradual reform of the Calloway band, consolidating its position as a genuine Jazz orchestra at the highest level.” [p.159].

Turning to Doc Cheatham, Cab’s lead trumpet player for many years, Mr. Shipton goes on to reinforce the view that by the early 1940’s the band was looking to reinforce its Jazz credentials: “He [Cab] had to change the band, because he knew he wouldn’t be able to scream for the rest of his life.” [Doc Cheatham, Guess I’ll Go And Get The Papers, p. 46; Shipton, p.135].

During his first decade in the business, Cab had always tried to maintain an excellent band with fine soloists and imaginative arrangers and this was to become even more the case in what Mr. Shipton describes as Cruisin’ with Cab, 1941-1948.

The irony for Cab’s band is that the better it became artistically, what Mr. Shipton describes as the “more assured and confident sound of the band,” the sadder it was when this artistry was undermined by a variety of factors that came into existence in the decade of the 1940s.

Of course the main force at work during the first half of this decade was World War II.  But domestically, Cab had to also contend with many other pressures and stressors, all of which are ably described in detail by Mr. Shipton. For example:

“This and the other records made on July 27 were to be Cab's last commercial discs to be cut until January 1945, owing to a long-running dispute between the AFM and the record industry that began on August 1, 1942. In pursuit of a levy for musicians to compensate them for the loss of sales incurred through the proliferation of jukeboxes, the union forbade its members to record. The result was an unintentional but seismic shift in the record industry in favor of purely vocal records, because singers were not included in the ban. …

Cab, on the road with his huge entourage, selling out theaters, and still able to broadcast with the band over national radio networks, decided to stick with his existing record contract and wait for a settlement. It did not suit him to make purely vocal discs and abandon the show he had built up over so long, and which he was managing to retain more or less intact despite the draft. As things turned out, Columbia (one of Irving Mills's stable of labels) was one of the last firms to settle with the union, and so in 1943-44, apart from a handful of V-Discs made for American troops overseas, the band s only commercial recordings were done for movie sound tracks. This fitted Irving Mills's long-term strategy for Cab, which was to continue to build him into a star who was never dependent on just one form of mass communication. Consequently Mills started the process of intro­ducing him socially to the who's who of Hollywood with the aim of making him a crossover film star, thereby repeating his success with both the white and black public on radio, record, and stage. [p,164, Emphasis mine]

The result of Mills’ strategy for Cab was that he would make a number of important films in the 1940s including Cabin in the Sky, Stormy Weather and Sensations of 1945 that would establish him as a film star. This stardom then made it possible for Cab to crossover into other forms of entertainment when social and economic factors following the end of WWII essentially put an end to most of the big bands.

During this period, Cab’s band would feature a new theme song, “Gerald Wilson’s modernistic Cruisin’ With Cab, along with a host of excellent Jazz soloists including trumpeter Jonah Jones,  tenor saxophonists Illinois Jacquet and Ike Quebec bassist Milt Hinton and drummer Cozy Cole. The band played it last gig in July, 1948 at the Roxy Theater in New York.

Jonah Jones recalled what happened next:

“He cut the band down to about seven pieces, me on trumpet, Keg John­son on trombone, and two saxes, Hilton Jefferson and Sam 'The Man" Taylor. There was Dave Rivera on piano, Milt Hinton on bass, and Pan­ama Francis on drums. That lasted for a while. Then he finally cut it down to four pieces and I was the only horn in the band. . . . There were three rhythm, and myself. . . . He was a wonderful director, he loved to direct, so even with the quartet he was directing us. He still changed clothes all night.” [p.182, Mr. Shipton’s 1995 interview with Jonah Jones]

Mr. Shipton’s Porgy, 1949-1970  opens with this description of the state of the big bands by the early 1950’s:

“Cab was not alone in facing the problems of maintaining a big band at the end of the 1940s. Of the most famous African American leaders, a few managed to keep their full orchestras afloat by rebalancing their repertoire. Duke Ellington, by subsidizing the band from his royalties, largely avoided such compromises. Lionel Hampton kept a smaller, but still sizable, band going by appealing to a different public. He adopted rhythm and blues techniques of style and presentation, which included Billy Mitchell playing the tenor saxophone on his back and fellow tenorist Gene Morris dropping to his knees during his solos. By contrast, Benny Carter was forced to dissolve his regular band in 1946. Despite the unexpected death of its leader in 1947, the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra struggled on a bit longer, but folded at the end of the decade following Ed Wilcox’s unsuccessful attempts to keep it going. ‘The Twentieth Century Gabriel,’ trumpeter Erskine Hawkins, scaled back his big band gradually, ending up with a quartet in 1953.

In January 1950, Count Basie was forced by rising costs and diminishing bookings to cut his regular touring group back to a septet. This small group became an octet when Basie s long-term guitarist, Freddie Green, rehired him­self, on the grounds that he'd given so much of his life to the band he was in no mood to be fired. Basics octet, with Clark Terry, Buddy DeFranco, and Wardell Gray among its members, and Neal Hefti writing the charts, used considerable ingenuity to compensate for the size of the band, and consequently made some of the best music Basic ever recorded. These discs sit interestingly at a stylistic crossroads between those made by his original Kansas City big band and the more forward-looking orchestra he was to lead in the 1950s.

Unlike Basie’s, the music that Cab recorded in 1949 is definitely not the most distinguished part of his legacy. It both mirrors his depressed personal state of mind, and also shows him searching for a new role as a popular entertainer. …”[pp,183-182].

Many of the musicians who climbed off the band buses went to work in smaller combos that played the Jazz club circuits; some formed into show bands that played cocktail lounges and the Las Vegas casinos; some got “day gigs” and resorted to playing the occasional weekend casual for weddings and private parties.

However, in the 1950’s and 60’s, those with good music reading skills initially found an abundance of work in the movie and television studios in Los Angeles and the Broadway theater and television studios of New York. In both cities, recording commercials and jingles for radio also offered steady work, as did cutting [the then new]long-playing albums as a recording orchestra contract player behind pop hit singers like Patti Page, Perry Como and Rosemary Clooney.

The Broadway stage was a very lucrative place to be when it was in vogue in the 1950’s and 1960’s and, after scuffling for a few years, Cab was to put his marvelous skills as a “crossover artist” on display there in productions of Porgy and Bess and Hello, Dolly!. He also took his Sportin’ Life Porgy and Bess characterization on the road in a one-man show that toured Great Britain.

As Mr. Shipton observes of Cab at this point in his career:

“The years in Porgy and Bess had given him the opportunity to develop a far richer and more flexible sound, which was to be the hallmark of his mature years….” [p.205]

Cab’s career was also helped along by television appearances on Person-to-Person with Edward R. Murrow and The Ed Sullivan Show and he gained a measure of financial security from performing as the halftime act for The Harlem Globetrotters basketball team which was then owned by Abe Saperstein whom he had known since the 1920s “when Cab was learning his trade in Chicago.” [p. 207].

The final two decades of Cab’s life are covered by Mr. Shipton in The Hi-De-Ho Man 1971-1994. During this period we find Cab literally struggling to get out of the house and in front of an audience.

As Mr. Shipton explains:

“Most of the marriages that came out of the era of the old Galloway band, such as those of Milt and Mona Hinton, Danny and Blue Lu Barker, or Dizzy and Lorraine Gillespie, were similarly long lived, but all of them had a compa­rable element of tension between the pull of the road (or the studios) and the hearth. Dizzy always longed to be home, but as soon as he had been back in his New Jersey house for a couple of days, he was planning his next escape, because as his road manager Charles Lake put it, "he didn't know what to do with himself when he was at home for any length of time.”

Cab was much the same.” [p. 213]

Cab’s creative urges found expression in a variety of settings including made-for-movie television episodes, a revival of the Broadway show The Pajama Game and a number of appearances at international Jazz festivals.

Of Cab’s career during this period, Mr. Shipton writes:

“His voice had developed into a fine musical theater baritone, capable of projecting forcefully into all but the largest of theaters, and his abilities as an actor grew at the same time. Now—as he approached his seven­ties—he was standing still artistically, and reverting to an ever-diminishing repertoire of his own most famous songs, most of which he could probably sing in his sleep.” [pp.219-220].

I doubt that many of us would want to join a touring company at the age of seventy, but then, none of us are Cab Calloway for that’s exactly what he did as described in the following excerpt from Mr. Shipton’s book:

“When he reached the age of seventy, he was fortunate that the growing vogue for African American stage musicals came to his rescue, and found him a new platform for his talents. In 1978 he joined the cast of the touring ver­sion of Bubbling Brown Sugar. The show was set in various fictitious Harlem nightclubs, and it was crafted by its author, Loften Mitchell, into a pacey sequence of songs, dances, and comic turns in the manner of a Cotton Club revue. Prior to Cab's arrival, the music contained in the show had altered slightly as it ran through 766 performances on Broadway, according to the talents of the available cast. Fundamentally, however, the repertoire was built around songs associated with Cab, Duke Ellington, Count Basic, Fats Waller, and Eubie Blake.” [p.220]

After sharing some amusing stories about Cab’s role in the movie The Blues Brothers Mr. Shipton offers this description of the final decade of Cab Calloway’s life as a performer:

“By the mid-1980s a new pattern had emerged. Cab and his new band would tour the United States and Europe in the summer festival months, they would take to the road again for short tours in the spring and fall, and he would otherwise pick and choose between individual engagements. Some of these were nostalgic, such as the memorial tribute to Ira Gershwin at the Gershwin Theater in August 1983, in which Cab sang a poignant version of "It Ain't Necessarily So," in mem­ory of Porgy and Bess's lyricist. Others were reunions with old friends, such as the all-star Songwriters' Guild event in January 1984 at the Palace in Manhattan, where Cab starred opposite Peggy Lee.

Particularly in Europe, on his summer tours in the 1980s and early 1990s, Cab's reception was terrific. This was not least because he was one of the few really high-profile survivors of the Cotton Club days who was still touring, and audiences hungered for an authentic link with the past. Louis Armstrong had died in 1971, Duke Ellington in 1974, ….” [pp.226-227]

There was not to be another decade as Cab Calloway died from complications of a stroke on November 18, 1994.”

Here are some thoughts that Mr. Shipton puts forth as an assessment of Cab Calloway’s storied career:

“… there is a wider legacy of Cab Calloway. Through his movie appear­ances in Stormy Weather and The Blues Brothers, we can see him in his pomp, and in his mature prime. In countless records, we can chart the extraordinary influence he had on jazz singing. With the reissue on CD of virtually all his work, it is possible to appreciate the sheer scale and consistency of his recorded achievement within the world of jazz, let alone his additional musical theater discs of Porgy and Bess and Hello, Dolly!

At a time when only Louis Armstrong had managed to bridge the gap between African American jazz and popular entertainment, Cab began by following in his footsteps and surpassed him. From the clubs of Baltimore to the cabarets of 1920s Chicago, and on to the mob-run Cotton Club, Cab ultimately transcended racial, class, and national boundaries. His music brought the storytelling traditions of African Americans to a huge public through his tales of Minnie and Smoky Joe, and his catchphrases became familiar the world over to several generations from the 1930s to the 1990s. With his straight hair and light complexion, he might have decided to pass for white, but he was always, uncompromisingly, a black artist.

Not being an instrumentalist like Armstrong, he initially achieved all this primarily as a vocalist, heard across America as he hi-de-hoed from the Cotton Club. His early triumphs like "St. Louis Blues," "St. James Infirmary," "Nagasaki," and "Minnie the Moocher" brought call and response to the fore­front of everyday entertainment in the 1930s. But these songs also set a tem­plate for the singers who would come afterward, from jump-jive vocalists such as Louis Jordan to more surreal entertainers such as Slim Gaillard, in whose work we find the early seeds of rap and hip-hop. In his films and recordings with the Cabaliers he sowed the seeds for doo-wop, just as pieces like "Calloway Boogie" looked forward to rhythm and blues.” [p.223]

It has been said that the unexamined life is not worth living and that the unlived life is not worth examining.

Hi-De-Ho: The Life of Cab Calloway offers the best of both of these worlds: Mr. Shipton’s very thorough examination of a life well-lived, that of one - Cabell Calloway [1907-1994].

Mr. Shipton’s accomplishment with this biography of Cab can also be viewed as being in the best tradition of what E.E. Carr suggested when he wrote: “The historian is an inveterate simplifier. He tidies up the infinite variety of events in order to make them intelligible.” [Times Literary Supplement, June 3, 1977].

The book is fully indexed, contains a bibliography and a listing of Cab Calloway’s recordings. Copies can be ordered directly from Oxford University Press at

Thanks to the ace graphics team at CerraJazz LTD and the production facilities at StudioCerra, you can see images of Cab and his orchestra in the following video montage and experience his magic in the accompanying audio which features him singing his theme song – Minnie The Moocher. [Click on the “X” to close out of the ads.]