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 →

The Cab Calloway TV Show in 1959 from the Rancho Don Carlos in Winnipeg, Canada

This show is one of a kind testimony of the way Cab Calloway sang and toured in the late fifties, when times were harder than during the Swing era. And, on a personal matter, this is a TV show I’ve been privileged to watch at Cab Calloway’s house in Westchester along with Cab’s daughter, Cecelia. I thought I’d never see it again, but here it is, after a dedicated fan posted it on YouTube. Read the full story →

Cotton Club Revue Season #2: 1958, from Miami to...

The second year, expected to fulfill the hopes of the first season, didn’t happen the way it was supposed to. With many changes in the leading parts, certainly lacking pizzazz, with a downgraded show, the 1958 Cotton Club Revue had also had to face bad luck. Even the GONE Album recorded to support the show was released right after the closing of the engagement in Miami… But it takes much more to dishearten Cab Calloway! Read the full story →

Cotton Club Revue Season #1: 1957, from Miami to New York and Las Vegas

In the Fifties, Miami became the place to be: hotels and resorts, nightclubs, beaches, the city was magic. Before retirees, tourists were the main source of income. It made sense for entrepreneurs to try their luck with an ambitious revue. Glamour, chorus girls, tap dance and entertainment were on the menu. And if you add Cab Calloway as the main course, you’re headed for success. So they say. And so it happened... well, at the beginning.     Read the full story →

GONE album “Cotton Club Revue of 1958”

Released in March 1958 to support the Cotton Club Revue, which was then touring in Miami and the USA (see our forthcoming article), this LP is Cab Calloway’s very first album – in the modern sense. Despite genuine qualities, this record went straight into the dustbin of discographers and jazz critics. It seems nevertheless to warrant some interest since, besides its two releases at the time, an unofficial vinyl emerged 30 years ago and an official release even popped up on CD in August 2014. Read the full story →

“Cab Calloway ’68”: the everlasting album with Bugs Bower

In March 1968, Cab Calloway released an album entitled “Cab ‘68” with 11 songs arranged and conducted by Maurice Bugs BOWER. The LP was the first release by label P.I.P., of Pickwick International. Leaning on the Hello Dolly!’ success, Cab sang tunes from the Broadway repertoire with new arrangements that were also of a new kind for the 60 year old king of Hi De Ho. The goal? Reaching a new and younger audience. We’ve been lucky and honored to interview Dr. Bugs Bower who has fond memories of this record. You’d never guess he’s 92! Read the full story →

Lammar WRIGHT as told by Wilmer WISE, his bandstand friend

Lammar WRIGHT (1905-1973) was an incredibly talented trumpeter who played in Cab’s orchestra between 1930 and 1944. He was one of the Missourians when Cab grabbed the band. Wilmer WISE (born in 1936) is another incredibly talented trumpeter, who has been playing in many fields, from big bands, Broadway pits, philharmonic orchestras, to rock and soul studio groups. We were honored to meet and interview him in October 2011 about his bandstand friend, Lammar Wright with whom he worked between 1956 and 1967. Read the full story →

Dotty SAULTERS: the petite singer larger than life (part 1)

She was the canary in Cab Calloway’s orchestra between 1943 and 1947 and her rather garish voice is heard on many live recordings… Nevertheless, she is actually a complete stranger in the eyes (especially the ears) of jazz connoisseurs.  Do not rely on reference books either: they do not even know she exists.  Yet Dotty SAULTERS was a helluva little woman, a singer and exceptional entertainer, not to mention a great tap dancer.  She was married to Honi Coles, the great tap dancer, and her life was always pulsed by the rhythm.  And what rhythm!  What a woman!  The Hi De Ho Blog reveals everything we know about Dotty Saulters. Here's the first of 3 part biography about Dotty: the first one is her life BEFORE working with Cab Calloway...   Read the full story →