The Life of Cab Calloway
Hi-De-Ho: The Life of Cab Calloway. Oxford Univ. Oct. 2010. c.304p. photogs. bibliog. index. discog. ISBN 9780195141535. $29.95. MUSIC
Jazz critic Shipton follows his biography of Dizzy Gillespie (Groovin' High) and his extensive A New History of Jazz with the first full-length biography of the iconic originator of "Minnie the Moocher." At the height of his popularity in the Thirties, vocalist-bandleader Cab Calloway was the most popular and most highly compensated African American entertainer in the country. His scat vocals influenced American music from Louis Jordan to Tupac Shakur, and his stage costumes defined fashion for a generation of hipsters around the world. Shipton presents in admirable detail Calloway's professional apex as Cotton Club headliner and leader of the foremost big band in the United States and reveals him as a superior artistic tactician. He also offers critical reconsiderations of Calloway's vocal and instrumental recordings, making a strong case for his inclusion as a musical innovator in the class of Louis Armstrong or Duke Ellington.
VERDICT With Calloway's private life as a secondary focus, this will be more compelling for fans of jazz and vintage popular music than for average readers. An essential purchase for any jazz or popular music collection.
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