Monday, November 24, 2008

Cab Callaway

Cab Callaway-American Original! 

A few years ago, I was cruising along the sidewalks of North Beach in Miami when I walked by a curb-parked convertible Caddy with some guys in it. At first, I thought they kinda looked a bit like mafia muscle. Then I noticed the one older guy in the back, grinning with a full set of shiny whites and instantly recognized him, Cab Callaway, one of America's premier Big Band leaders, Jazz performers and Scat singers (he supposedly learned scat singing from Louis Armstrong). Since he was there, smiling and relaxed (and his fellow passengers didn't appear armed) I thought he wouldn't mind a shot or two. I just leaned in and shot. He seemed to be having a  ball too.

Callaway first came to prominence in the 1930's with greats like Dizzy Gillespie in his band. That band was a semi-official co-host of the Cotton Club with Duke Ellington's band.

I guess I knew his famous face from too many viewings of the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers. In that movie he performs Minnie the Moocher, his most well known song, one he performed for the Betty Boop cartoons. Callaway made many appearances later in his life including Sesame Street, Wrestlemania, Janet Jackson videos and other movies and stage productions. Winner of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, he passed away 14 years ago last week.