Having spent years showcasing his own personality while diminishing the importance of the instrumentalists in his bands, Cab Calloway groveled during the early '50s, resorting to every imaginable gimmick and often sounding positively desperate. Two rather forced duets with Eugenie Baird employ exactly the same material as Pearl Bailey and Hot Lips Page were using during that same time period. These somewhat irritating covers are as different as can be from the fine artistry of Pearl and Page. "Rooming House Boogie" actually rocks, and Sam Taylor has a good hot solo. An overbearing tribute to Joe Louis is followed by the misogynistic "Your Voice"…
Cab Calloway had one of his strongest orchestras during the period covered by this CD, the eighth of 12 put out by the European Classics label that reissue all of his studio recordings from 1930-42. Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie joined the band by the time of its Aug. 30, 1939 session and he has several short solos on these tracks in addition to being well-featured on the adventurous "Pickin' the Cabbage." In addition, the great tenor Chu Berry gets plenty of solo space, the impressive rhythm section (with guitarist Danny Barker, bassist Milt Hinton and drummer Cozy Cole) really propels the ensembles and Cab Calloway is in typically exuberant voice. Among the highlights are "The Ghost of Smoky Joe," "Crescendo in Drums" (a feature for Cole), "Pluckin' the Bass" (Hinton's showcase) and even "Jiveformation Please".
The seventh of the Classics label's 12 Cab Calloway CDs traces his progress during an 11-month period through 24 recordings. The band's main soloists at the time included trumpeters Shad Collins and Irving Randolph, trombonists Claude Jones and Keg Johnson and especially tenor great Chu Berry (the band gets four instrumentals on this set). Singer June Richmond has a couple of vocals but obviously Cab Calloway is the main reason that the orchestra was working so steadily. With such songs as "Shout Shout, Shout," "Do You Wanna Jump Children" and "F.D.R. Jones" among the more memorable tracks, this CD (along with the others in the valuable series) is well worth picking up.
The swing era may have been at its height during the time covered by this CD (the sixth of 12 put out by the Classics label that reissue all of Cab Calloway's 1930-42 recordings) but the colorful vocalist held onto his audience and remained a household name. With such soloists as Ben Webster or Chu Berry on tenor, trumpeters Shad Collins and Lammar Wright and a rhythm section including guitarist Danny Barker and bassist Milt Hinton, Calloway had a particularly strong (if generally overlooked) orchestra. Among the more memorable selections of the 24 included on this CD are "Swing, Swing, Swing," "She's Tall, She's Tan, She's Terrific," "Bugle Blues" and "Hi-De-Ho Romeo."
Cab Calloway, who first became popular in 1930, retained his popularity (despite a lot of competition) throughout the swing era. On this excellent CD (the fifth of 12 in the European label Classics' Complete Calloway series), highlights include "Keep That Hi-De-Hi in Your Soul," "Nagasaki," "Copper Colored Gal," "Frisco Flo" and a crazy "That Man Is Here Again." With fine soloists in trumpeters Lammar Wright and Shad Collins, trombonist Claude Jones and (by 1936) the great tenor Ben Webster (along with a top-notch rhythm section that includes bassist Milt Hinton), this was a much better swing orchestra than it is generally rated in jazz history books.
The Depression may have been at its height during the two years covered by this Classics CD (the fourth in their series of 12 complete Cab Calloway sets), but there was nothing depressed about Calloway's often-jubilant vocals, the playing of his vastly underrated orchestra or the infectious (and sometimes) crazy lyrics. Trumpeter Lammar Wright, clarinetist Eddie Barefield and Walter Thomas on tenor contribute some fine solos but the focus is very much on the leader's vocals and he is in peak form on such songs as "The Lady with the Fan," "Harlem Camp Meeting," "Kickin' the Gong Around," "'Long About Midnight" and "Margie" (even if "Chinese Rhythm" is rather absurd). This easily recommended set also has a remake of "Minnie the Moocher" and an all-star recording of "Doin' the New Lowdown" with The Mills Brothers and Don Redman's Orchestra.
The third of 12 Cab Calloway CDs put out by Classics (which on a whole reissues the master takes of all of the popular singer's recordings from 1930-42) covers a busy six-month period. His big band (which tended to be greatly overshadowed) was actually quite excellent with good soloists in trumpeter Lammar Wright, clarinetist Eddie Barefield, Walter Thomas on tenor and pianist Bennie Payne, but of course Calloway was the main star. Highlights of this very enjoyable set include "Old Yazoo," "Reefer Man," "Old Man of the Mountain," "You Gotta Ho-De-Ho," "I've Got the World on a String," the bizarre "Dixie Doorway," "Beale Street Mama" and "The Man from Harlem." Many of the titles on this rewarding release had never been reissued before, making the Classics series a collection worth picking up in a hurry before they disappear.