“A plane! A plane for my musicians!”

Tout le monde sait que l'orchestre de Cab Calloway était parmi les mieux traités du business : la paie était la meilleure, 4 semaines de congés payés par an et 1 semaine à Noël avec une prime, au moins 3 costumes de scène inclus, etc. Dans le "package" Calloway, il y avait également le transport. Quand ce n'était pas dans un bus spécial, l'orchestre avait pour habitude de voyager dans un wagon Pullman bénéficiant d'un grand confort. Les nombreuses photos de Milt Hinton vous ont déjà montré tout ça. Ce que l'on sait moins, c'est que tout l'orchestre profita pendant quelques mois d'un nouveau type de transport, unique dans tout le monde du jazz à l'époque : un avion ! Il n'y a guère que The Hi de Ho Blog pour vous raconter pareille anecdote ! 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 →

Cab Calloway on Television: 2 - The Forties

“Recognized as a ‘natural’ for television, Cab has made several test performances before the television cameras” states The Macon News dated February 2, 1947. But Cab Calloway’s first known TV appearance is only dated a few weeks before, on January 17, 1947 between 11:30 pm and 1 am. Cab indeed performs on the debuting TV Show “Cavalcade of Bands” for the March of Dimes Telethon, along with bandleaders Jimmy Dorsey and Guy Lombardo. The show, probably shot in Chicago, was telecast on the CBS Network. From then on, Cab will appear frequently on many TV shows and will participate in numerous telethons on TV until the late 1980’s. I haven’t found yet any other appearance for 1947. Remember that at the end of 1947, his feature movie “Hi De Ho” is released in movie theaters. But, starting 1948, Cab will progressively share his time among stage, radio, and TV studios. And that’s the right time for Cab: in April 1948, he disbanded his orchestra, only keeping a small combo with him. The forthcoming years will be hard for Cab, Duke, Count, Woody, Benny and many more! Cab quickly understands the power of television and struggles to get a spot on the small screen that is starting to get a room in many homes in the USA. He almost got his own show but the black and white screens still had issues having an African American artist as the main feature on a regular TV show. Read the full story →

“Hi De Ho” (1937): the Cab Calloway Vitaphone movie with genuine actors… and real music! 1/2

“Hi De Ho” is a Vitaphone movie released on February 20, 1937 by Warner Bros in the Melody Masters Series, that wonderfully demonstrates the musical qualities and stage persona of Cab Calloway and his musicians. But there’s more to know about this 11-mn and 1 reel movie, rarely seen, and often ignored by jazz historians and film or theater scholars: his uncredited cast shows besides Cab three distinguished and established actors nobody noticed.  Until now! (PART 1/2) Read the full story →

Leroy MAXEY: The drummer without solo (part 3)

Is there a curse for the Cab Calloway’s musicians from the rhythm section? Like Cab’s first pianist, Earres Prince with Benny Payne, like guitar player Morris White with Danny Barker, like Al Morgan with bass player Milt Hinton, drummer Leroy Maxey remains in the shadow of his successor Cozy Cole. And yet, Leroy ‘Cash’ Maxey had long been the drummer of the Missourians when Cab took over as leader of the band. Jazz historians have since recognized him as a classic drummer, notable for his use of the bass drum pedal and his four-to-the-floor technique. The Hi de Ho Blog will tell you what we know about the man who was a small star in his time, a great seducer (almost a bigamist) who was fired overnight by Cab because he couldn’t play an up-to-date solo... + Vintage drummers specialist Nicholas D. Ball offers deep research on Maxey’s playing and drum kit. A must-read! Read the full story →