January 05, 2011

Music Is...Cab Calloway, Nicholas Brothers and Big Band

I'm positive that nearly the whole world is familiar with the Nicholas Brothers and Cab Calloway.

I remember seeing clips of these men when I was little. I'm sure I saw them on some infomercial from TIME or some other company that dug them up from their archives, advertising them as part of some special musical videotape package or something of that nature. Looking at that footage then, I didn't even believe it was real. I thought surely this is some very realistic cartoon because human beings can't do this. Nope, it's all real. The sheer acrobatic skill and physical ability these brothers imparted to their craft is absolutely unbeleivable. Who in the world, leapfrogs and lands in a split over one another, down a big curved set of stairs at that? The Nicholas Brothers. Incredible. What they accomplished then, in the 30's-40's is highly regarded among some including me as some of the most raw finesse there is. Doing a bit of searching, I read that these guys didn't even have any kind of formal training, they just learned from watching African American Vaudeville acts.  Then you've got Calloway, with that full robust voice setting things off. He was a very accomplished scat/jazz style singer."Minnie The Moocher" for the Betty Boop animated shorts, is among his most popular recordings and became one reason he was dubbed "The Hi De Ho Man". Just for kicks, in a 1944 Warner Brothers cartoon with Porky Pig titled Swooner Crooner, Porky's hens are on hiatus laying their eggs because of a crooner rooster who is a caricature of Frank Sinatra. In order to perk things up Porky auditions many roosters, a caricature of Calloway being one of them.

Cab Calloway, short bio.
Nicholas Brothers, short bio.

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