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Book Reviews

Hi-De-Ho: The Life Of Cab Calloway

By Published: February 3, 2011
After the war, Calloway hit on hard times for a while, but met with success in his second career on Broadway playing in long running musicals like Porgy and Bess and Hello, Dolly!. This new fame allowed him to continue to tour, trotting out the old hits for the old timers while endearing himself to a new generation. However, it was his appearance in the movie The Blues Brothers (1980) that really brought him a new level of fame. A humorous anecdote from the book concerns a disco arrangement of "Minnie the Moocher" that Calloway had introduced into the band in the 1970s. The old version was used for the movie and quickly made its way back into the book when that became the version that the fans of the movie wanted to hear.

Shipton's book doesn't quite have the fun and exuberance of Calloway's music (how could it?), but it presents an easy to read and definitive portrait of one the greatest entertainers jazz has produced. Perhaps the best compliment to pay to the book is that Shipton will make you want to listen to Calloway's music and seek out some of the recordings beyond "Minnie the Moocher." Calloway's music hasn't always been easy to find; Shipton shows us why the search is worth it.

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