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Cab Calloway: Farewell Blues

March 19, 2010

Cab Calloway by Carl Van Vechten.

Cab Calloway and His Orchestra
Farewell Blues

Recorded in 1930

In 1930, Cab Calloway took over the Missourians, a rough-edged jazz band that specialized in making a racket. Almost instantly, he transformed the band from a raucous, undisciplined rabble to a raucous, undisciplined rabble with a leaping, screaming maniac in front of it. He also transformed them from a Harlem flop to a national sensation.

Later on, of course, Cab Calloway’s band would grow sophisticated and play in tune just like all the other swing bands. But here’s the band not too long after Calloway took over, when it was still excitingly rough around the edges.

Calloway’s scat vocal is actually the most interesting jazz solo in the performance. He was only about 23 at the time; his voice would deepen considerably over the next few years.

This record was much loved by its previous owner, so it’s a bit noisy. But it’s worth a bit of noise to hear Cab Calloway when he was still frighteningly new and different.

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From → Jazz

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