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November 11, 2010

BOOK

Alyn Shipton, Hi-De-Ho: The Life of Cab Calloway (Oxford, $29.95). This is, surprisingly, the first full-length biography of the creator of Minnie the Moocher and Smokey Joe, and it's a solid piece of work, a bit short on color but thoroughly reliable and informative. Contrary to the received view of snobbish jazz critics, Calloway was a first-rate jazz-flavored pop singer whose vocals were comparable in quality to the brilliant ensemble playing of the big band that he led throughout the Thirties and Forties, and Shipton gives him his due. Must reading for swing buffs, especially in tandem with The Chu and Dizzy Years, Hep Records' indispensable two-CD compilation of Calloway's key 78s (TT).

Posted November 11, 2010 7:59 AM

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