Hi-de-ho: The Life of Cab Calloway

Hi-de-ho: The Life of Cab Calloway


By (author) Alyn Shipton

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
  • Format: Hardback | 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 160mm x 236mm x 30mm | 567g
  • Publication date: 11 November 2010
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0195141539
  • ISBN 13: 9780195141535
  • Illustrations note: 20 halftones, 10 line illustrations
  • Sales rank: 1,032,766

Product description

Clad in white tie and tails, dancing and scatting his way through the "Hi-de-ho" chorus of "Minnie the Moocher," Cab Calloway exuded a sly charm and sophistication that endeared him to legions of fans. In Hi-de-ho: The Life of Cab Calloway, author Alyn Shipton sheds new light on Calloway's life and career, explaining how he traversed racial and social boundaries to become one of the country's most beloved entertainers. Drawing on first-hand accounts from Calloway's family, friends, and fellow musicians, the book traces the roots of this music icon, from his childhood in Rochester, New York, to his life of hustling on the streets of Baltimore. Shipton highlights how Calloway's desire to earn money to support his infant daughter prompted his first break into show business, when he joined his sister Blanche in a traveling revue. Beginning in obscure Baltimore nightclubs and culminating in his replacement of Duke Ellington at New York's famed Cotton Club, Calloway honed his gifts of scat singing and call-and-response routines. His career as a bandleader was matched by his genius as a talent-spotter, evidenced by his hiring of such jazz luminaries as Ben Webster, Dizzy Gillespie, and Jonah Jones. As the swing era waned, Calloway reinvented himself as a musical theatre star, appearing as Sportin' Life in "Porgy and Bess" in the early 1950s; in later years, Calloway cemented his status as a living legend through cameos on "Sesame Street" and his show-stopping appearance in the wildly popular "The Blues Brothers" movie, bringing his trademark "hi-de-ho" refrain to a new generation of audiences. More than any other source, Hi-de-ho stands as an entertaining, not-to-be-missed portrait of Cab Calloway-one that expertly frames his enduring significance as a pioneering artist and entertainer.

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Author information

Alyn Shipton is the author of several award-winning books on music including A New History of Jazz and Groovin' High: The Life of Dizzy Gillespie. He is jazz critic for The Times in London and has presented jazz programs on BBC radio since 1989. He is also an accomplished double bassist and has played with many traditional and mainstream jazz bands.

Review quote

Alyn Shipton's entertaining and informative biography is a match for its subject at every stage of his career. Full of first-hand accounts of Calloway's musical life from fellow musicians, vivid news reports of his stage appearances, and insights into the personal and family relations which both supported and troubled him throughout a long life, Hi-De-Ho does justice to an artist too often regarded as something of a caricature. Times Literary Supplement Shipton writes learnedly and intimately about jazz, but is not blind to the broader cultural fabric into which it is woven. He makes sense of this fascinating, eccentric and multifaceted character Trevor Herbert, Times Higher Education I met Cab Calloway at Eddie Condon's club he lit up the room by his presence and I can understand why everyone loved the man. Alyn Shipton captures Cab's spirit in his biography Hi-De-Ho; every page is filled with anecdotes about Cab and his music. Chu Berry, Ben Webster, and other well known musicians spring from the pages. Not only does Shipton bring Cab Calloway to life, he makes the reader understand the era in which he lived. For a short time, we enter his world, and what a world it was. Marian McPartland OBE, jazz pianist, writer, composer, radio host (Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz) If you think Cab Calloway was just a show-off chanting "Hi De Ho" and shaking his hair, think again. Thanks to Alyn Shipton, we now have an entirely new and convincing portrait of the singer/bandleader/actor. Thoroughly researched and engaging, Shipton's book has enlightened us with the complete story of this important artist. Krin Gabbard, author of Hotter Than That: The Trumpet, Jazz, and American Culture Hi-De-Ho delivers! Beautifully written and multifaceted this revealing biography crystallizes the transformative power of Cab Calloway's groundbreaking genius. In a manner as universal and inspiring as the legend portrayed, Shipton highlights the breadth and impact of my grandfather's continuing legacy. Christopher Calloway Brooks, Director - The Cab Calloway Orchestra 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. An essential purchase for any jazz or popular music collection. Library Journal the most authoritative study of the entertainer's life yet published Ted Gioia, Weekly Standard This is undoubtedly an authoritative biography of a man who has tended to be neglected by jazz critics Tony Augarde, Music Web International Hi-De-Ho is a masterpiece of well-researched historical biography, and a fascinating read about a talented performer David Schwartz, "Die Is Cast" blog Shipton describes how the esame Street producers saw potential in his attire and scatting vocalizations as he did "commercials" for numbers and letters. Cab jumped in enthusiastically. In The Blues Brothers he plays a janitor who, through movie magic, suddenly turns to Hi-De-Ho'ing while the Brothers are evading the police. As Shipton describes these moments, you're there. JJA News provides a reliable, fully informed account of Calloway's career, one in which the emphasis is placed squarely-and properly-on his musical achievements. It is impossible to read Hi-De-Ho without realizing that Cab Calloway, far from being a clown, was in fact a major figure in American popular culture Commentary Magazine That such a project is both overdue and timely only makes this excellent study the more welcome... Shipton's biography, with its well-selected illustrations, seems definitive to me Jazzwize a comprehensive and diligently researched biography of the great jazz singer and bandleader Our Man in Boston Blog Shipton writes learnedly and intimately about jazz, but is not blind to the broader cultural fabric into which it is woven. He makes sense of this fascinating, eccentric and multifaceted character. Trevor Herbert, THE blog he has so much more to tell us than the usual scissors-and-paste biographer The Scotsman [a] helpful listening guide Brian Priestly, Jazz UK