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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 warm 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'slife 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. Beginning in obscure Baltimore nightclubs and culminating in his replacement of Duke Ellington at New York's famed Cotton Club, the book shows how 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 theater star, appearing as Sportin' Life in "Porgy and Bess" in the early 1950s; in later years, Calloway cemented his status as a livinglegend 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.
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.