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: Paperback | 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 157mm x 231mm x 23mm | 408g
  • Publication date: 7 March 2013
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0199931747
  • ISBN 13: 9780199931743
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Illustrations note: 20 halftones, 10 line illus
  • Sales rank: 1,609,999

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, author Alyn Shipton offers the first full-length biography of Cab Calloway, whose vocal theatrics and flamboyant stage presence made him one of the highest-earning African American bandleaders. 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 is the first full-length book devoted to the man...and deftly brings out the band's inner musical dynamics." --Will Friedwald, The Wall Street Journal"Alyn Shipton's entertaining and informative biography is a match for its subject at every stage of his career." --Times Literary Supplement"A reliable, fully informed account of Calloway's career, one in which the emphasis is placed squarely--and properly--on his musical achievements.... I can think of no better way to be brought face to face with the extent of that achievement than to read Hi-de-ho." --Terry Teachout, Commentary"Mr. Shipton's excellent book should convince many readers and, I hope, some critics, that it might be time to experience Calloway's recordings and movies again, and try to discover, in part at least, what the hi-de-ho-ing was all about."--William F. Gavin, The Washington Times"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 crystalizes 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"Makes a solid case for Calloway as a jazz musician as well as an entertainer, and he certainly makes you want to listen to 'Minnie' and all the others, for the umpteenth time in my case and, it is to be hoped, for the first time in others'." --The Washington Post"Shipton, for his part, is an enthusiastic advocate, not just for Calloway but also for the mostly forgotten instrumentalists who worked in his orchestra over the years. Yet his analysis of the recordings tends to be astute, and is the high point of this book. All celebrity musicians should be blessed with such a sympathetic listener for a biographer." --The Weekly Standard"This formidable book opens the door for future books on Calloway's enduring influence."--The Week"Recommended for any music fan, particularly to those of us who had our first glimpse of Calloway in the 'Blues Brothers' movie." --The Herald Sun"Enlightening. Thorough. This is the first real biography of an important cultural icon...Shipton describes how the Sesame 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 "It is the great merit of Mr. Shipton's richly documented, well-written, and musically informed 'Hi-De-Ho' that he makes a convincing case for Calloway as an unjustly neglected entertainer...Mr. Shipton's excellent book should convince many readers and, I hope, some critics, that it might be time to experience Calloway's recordings and movies again, and try to discover, in part at least, what the hi-de-ho-ing was all about." --The Washington Times

Table of contents

Introduction and acknowledgements ; List of Illustrations ; Chapter 1: 1907-1927 ; Chapter 2: 1927-1930 ; Chapter 3: 1930-1931 ; Chapter 4: 1931-1933 ; Chapter 5: 1933-1934 ; Chapter 6: 1934-1937 ; Chapter 7: 1937-1939 ; Chapter 8: 1939-1941 ; Chapter 9: 1941-1948 ; Chapter 10: 1949-1970 ; Chapter 11: 1971-1994 ; Notes ; Bibliography ; Index