The “ST. LOUIS BLUES” movie (1958): A MISSED OPPORTUNITY

St. Louis Blues (1958) starring Nat King Cole, Eartha Kitt, Pearl Bailey and Cab Calloway is a truly awful film with an outstanding cast.  Our friend and fellow Cab Calloway fan Keller Whalen has left no stone unturned in uncovering the behind-the-scenes details – he even watched the movie several times.  The Hi De Ho Blog is pleased to present a fascinating look at the story of how a bad film was made and the often hilarious reviews that followed its release.  Read the full story →

Morris ‘Fruit’ WHITE: from the Missourians’ banjo to Calloway’s guitar

Very little is known about Morris WHITE, Cab Calloway’s first rhythm guitarist and banjo player.  While French critics seem to have appreciated his musicianship during the 1934 European tour, he attained little or no place in jazz literature.  In the history of Cab’s orchestra, it’s Danny BARKER who is recognized as the star of the guitar in the rhythm section. The musicologist Gunther SCHULLER, however, awarded White many compliments throughout his study of the music of the Cab Calloway orchestra.  The Hi De Ho Blog is excited to tell you everything we know about Morris ‘Fruit’ White.  And as a bonus, thanks to Nick ROSSI, guitarist, writer and jazz historian, we are able to offer you an extra deep dive into analyzing Morris' technique and instruments.   Read the full story →

BEN BAGLEY, CAB CALLOWAY AND THE GREAT BROADWAY COMPOSERS

On several occasions in the 1970s Cab teamed up with producer Ben Bagley to record musical comedy show tunes for LP salutes to the great popular songwriters.  Bagley’s Revisited series of albums pay tribute to the iconic Broadway composers and lyricists with some of their more obscure and forgotten songs. Those exceptional albums are cherished and widely coveted by collectors. Keller Whalen, for The Hi De Ho Blog, tells you the whole story. And it’s history! By Keller WHALEN Read the full story →

Elmer: Cab Calloway’s (not so) hidden brother

  The name “Calloway” was a huge path to success.  Before Cab, of course, there was Blanche, the elder sister (born in 1903) who started out with Louis Armstrong before having her own orchestra in 1931.  But what few of us know is that Cab had a younger brother who also happened to lead his own orchestra.  But to find out more about Elmer Calloway, you have to search and search and search.  But don’t try searching at Cab’s house.   Read the full story →

Avis ANDREWS: The Sepia Prima Donna

Billed alternately in the ads as “Sepia Prima Donna”, “The Sepian Nightingale”, “Siren of Songs”, “Songbird of the South”, “Bundle of Blues”, “Popular and petite songbird”, “The aristocrat of song”, “The Broadway Favorite and Singing Sensation”, “Second to Marian Anderson” or “Greatest colored soprano” (sic). Still: if we had to rely on Cab Calloway’s autobiography to find out a little more about this singer who was the canary for the orchestra for more than 7 years, we wouldn’t get very far! The Hi De Ho Blog invistigated and tells you almost everything about a great singer (cousin of the singer and TV star Leslie Uggams) admired then and forgotten today. Read the full story →

Cab Calloway’s RCA Studio album “Hi-De-Hi-De-Ho” (1960)

Recorded in December 1958, this album was supposed to let people discover Cab Calloway’s “stylized vocal” in full stereo, backed by a big band orchestra. It was eventually released in June 1960! The Hi De Ho Blog tries to explain the story of those tracks, neglected by Jazz historians, forgotten by most but which are a lively experience of Cab Calloway’s sound and voice in this era: timeless! Read the full story →

“The Pajama Game” (1973-1974): tops and bottoms in black and white

After Cab Calloway’s success on Broadway with Porgy and Bess (1952-1954) and Hello, Dolly! (1968-1972), the Great White Way seemed to be wide open to another long-term run with the revival of The Pajama Game. Despite great cards in hand, the curtain dropped on the show after just 65 performances. The Hi De Ho Blog tells you why Cab has better luck in a white tuxedo than in black pajamas… Read the full story →

Cab Calloway’s “Blues Make Me Happy”

Cab Calloway’s 1962 album of standards, Blues Make Me Happy has recently been released on CD on the Sepia label. The original Coral LP has been re-mastered and cleaned up for the first time using the CEDAR noise-reduction process, with rare bonus material from the Coral and ABC-Paramount labels.  The new CD “Blues Make Me Happy The ABC-Paramount and Coral Years 1956-1961” includes a booklet with full discographic details and very informative liner notes by Christopher POPA, webmaster of the Big Band Library website. It’s unfortunate that Cab didn’t record more albums of standards or contemporary tunes during this era, because he was at the height of his powers as a vocalist.  Although the rapid high-pitched scatting and vocal pyrotechnics of the hot-jazz 1930s were somewhat diminished, they were more than equaled by a mature and powerful voice, perfect diction and breath control, and an impressive three-octave range. The Hi De Ho Blog brings you the whole story, reviews the CD, and adds new information about this milestone yet underrated album.     Read the full story →