February 7: On This Day in Music

today

. 1710 ~ William Boyce, English organist/composer (Cathedral Music), born in London (d. 1779)

. 1818 ~ Henry Charles Litolff, piano virtuoso, composer of Romantic music and music publisher

. 1871 ~ Wilhelm Stenhammar [Carl Wilhelm Eugen Stenhammar], Swedish composer considered the finest Swedish pianist of his time, born in Stockholm, Sweden (d. 1927)

. 1883 ~ Herbert “Eubie” Blake, American jazz pianist, vaudevillian, songwriter and composer
More information about Blake

. 1920 ~ Oscar Brand, Folk singer, composer, music director of NBC-TV Sunday, host of Let’s Sing Out

. 1921 ~ Wilma Lee Cooper (Leary), Country singer with husband, Stoney and the group, Clinch Mountain Clan with her daughter, Carol Lee

. 1931 ~ The American opera, “Peter Ibbetson”, by Deems Taylor premiered at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.

. 1941 ~ The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra and Frank Sinatra teamed to record Everything Happens to Me for Victor Records in New York City.

. 1948 ~ Jimmy Greenspoon, Organist with Three Dog Night

. 1949 ~ Alan Lancaster, Bass with Status Quo

. 1959 ~ Brian Travers, Saxophone with UB40

. 1962 ~ (Troyal) Garth Brooks, American Grammy Award-winning singer: In Another’s Eyes (1998 with Trisha Yearwood), Friends in Low Places and The Thunder Rolls. His LP Ropin’ the Wind was the first LP in history to debut at #1 on Billboard’s pop and country charts, The Chase, In Pieces, Fresh Horses, Sevens, Double Live has sold over 80 million albums — second only to The Beatles.

. 1962 ~ David Bryan, Keyboards with Bon Jovi

. 1964 ~ 3,000+ fans crowded the JFK airport in New York to receive the four stars of the music sensation, The Beatles. One word summarizes the reaction to The Beatles on their first US tour: hysteria.

. 1969 ~ Tom Jones, ‘The Prince of Wales’, premiered on ABC-TV after the network acquired the rights to the singing sensation’s popular United Kingdom show. The network paid a British production company an estimated $20 million for those rights. And they cried in one of Tom’s hankies all the way to the bank.

. 1974 ~ Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra received a gold record for the disco hit Love’s Theme.

. 1985 ~ New York, New York became the official anthem of the Big Apple. The announcement was made by then New York mayor, Ed “How’m I Doin’?” Koch. Frank Sinatra fans rejoiced at the honor.

. 2001 ~ Dale Evans died at the age of 88. She was an actress-singer who became “Queen of the West” by starring with husband Roy Rogers in 27 cowboy films and writing their theme song, Happy Trails.

. 2002 ~ Bert Conway, an actor and director whose 60-year career included theater, movies and television, died of heart failure. He was 87. The son of vaudeville performers, Conway was born in Orange, N.J. He had a walk-on part in the original 1937 Group Theater staging of Clifford Odets’ “Golden Boy” and later had the lead as a reform school youth in Lee Strasberg’s production of “Dance Night.” After serving in the Army in World War II, Conway went to Hollywood. He began directing plays in 1947. His work included the first interracial production of “Golden Boy” for the Negro Art Theater in Los Angeles. In 1950, he returned to New York to act in and direct plays. His work included an off-Broadway revival of “Deep Are the Roots” and appearances with Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival. He also appeared in several road company productions, had small roles in the movies “The Three Musketeers,” “Little Big Man” and “The Arrangement,” and on TV’s “St. Elsewhere.”

. 2009 ~ Blossom Dearie, American jazz singer and pianist, died of natural causes at the age of 84

A Favorite of mine – Cab Calloway

Since I’ve done the Nicholas Brothers and Busby Berkeley, it’s time for Cab Calloway, another old movie favorite of mine.

I think the first time I ever came across anything related to Calloway was in the late 1960s when I was watching That Girl on TV – Ann’s father (Lew Parker) sang Minnie the Moocher for a talent show.  The song stuck in my head.  I wish I could find a video of that performance.

“Minnie the Moocher” is a jazz song first recorded in 1931 by Cab Calloway and His Orchestra, selling over a million copies. “Minnie the Moocher” is most famous for its nonsensical ad-libbed (“scat”) lyrics (for example, “Hi De Hi De Hi De Hi”).

In performances, Calloway would have the audience participate by repeating each scat phrase in a form of call and response. Eventually, Calloway’s phrases would become so long and complex that the audience would laugh at their own failed attempts to repeat them.

“Minnie the Moocher” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.

 

Lots of others have sung this song, as well including Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie in “Jeeves and Wooster”.

 

 

and the Three Mo’ Tenors performed it in 2001

 

 

Calloway appeared in the 1980 film The Blues Brothers and sang a shortened version “Minnie The Moocher” in the film, in the original style of big band.

 

Cabell “Cab” Calloway III (December 25, 1907 – November 18, 1994) was an American jazz singer and bandleader. He was strongly associated with the Cotton Club in Harlem, New York City, where he was a regular performer.

Calloway was a master of energetic scat singing and led one of the United States’ most popular big bands from the start of the 1930s through to the late 1940s. Calloway’s band featured performers including trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Adolphus “Doc” Cheatham, saxophonists Ben Webster and Leon “Chu” Berry, New Orleans guitar ace Danny Barker, and bassist Milt Hinton. Calloway continued to perform until his death in 1994 at the age of 86.

An old Paramount short film of Cab Calloway singing many of his hits.

 

 

“The Old Man of The Mountain” is non-stop Cab from beginning to end. He appears first as an owl, singing the title song. The words have been changed for the cartoon, in which the Old Man is a villain. In the original song, the Old Man is a benevolent character. Next we see Cab as the Old Man himself, rotoscoped and singing, “You Gotta Hi-De-Hi,” followed by “The Scat Song.”

The cartoon begins with live footage of Cab and his Orchestra playing around with the tune of Minnie the Moocher while Cab scats mildly and grins at the camera. Whereas Cab may have been caught by surprise when they used live footage of him in the earlier cartoon, “Minnie the Moocher”, this time he is ready. He and his band are in dress white uniforms, Cab’s hair is slicked back, and he pays attention to the camera. (The drummer, Leroy Maxey, is still playing with his drumsticks, though!)

Of the three cartoons starring Cab Calloway, this one has the least interesting and least surreal plot, and the animation is the crudest. Never-the-less, the very early live footage of Cab is a treasure, and this cartoon showcases his music from beginning to end, featuring three of his songs. He does some of his most remarkable ever scat singing in this version of The Scat Song.

In all of the Fleisher cartoons, Cab’s characters are set in caves with menacing and ominous background illustrations: skeletons, skulls, ghosts, leering faces, and gambling, alcohol and drug paraphernalia. People have claimed that the Fleischers were unaware of the drug references in Cab’s songs (for example, “kicking the gong around” meaning “smoking opium”), but the imagery in the animations suggests otherwise.

 

 

Cab’s scat singing, dancing, comedic personality and flashy elegance had made him a star and a million-selling recording artist. He continued to perform right up until his death in 1994 at the age of 88.

Gunther Schuller sums up Calloway’s brilliance as an entertainer: “People still remember Cab Calloway as a dancer and vaudevillian with his wonderful white tuxedos and all of that — and, as a great, great showman.”