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Cab Calloway Orchestra Recreates an Evening at Harlems Famed Cotton Club

KEENE, N.H. 9/18/02 Relive the days when swing was king and jive was alive, as the legendary Cab Calloway Orchestra visits Keene State Colleges Redfern Arts Center on Brickyard Pond. The orchestra, led by Calloways multitalented grandson, Calloway Brooks, will perform Friday, Oct. 4, at 8 p.m. Their appearance is made possible by a grant from Peerless Insurance Company.

Tickets are available through the Brickyard Pond box office, 603-358-2168, and also on the web at Prices are $27 and $23 for the general public, $25 and $21 for seniors and Keene State faculty and staff, $13 and $11 for youth 17 and younger, and $5 for Keene State students with ID.

Brooks, with his singers, dancers, and the Calloway Orchestra, authentically delivers the sensation, sound, and flavor of the music that dazzled audiences nightly at the height of the Harlem Renaissance. During the 1930s and 40s Cab Calloway was the King of Hi-De-Ho. He ruled Harlems famed Cotton Club with his orchestras silky smooth ensemble work and spicy brass harmonies that had audiences bouncing and swaying and singing to irresistible rhythms.

Brooks, who has performed with such internationally renowned artists as Kenny Burrell, Lionel Hampton, Ron Blake, Don Byron, Anthony Braxton, Sheila Jordan, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, and Roy Merriweather among others, has also performed with his grandfather. About his performing with Cab, Brooks The Prince of Hi De Ho says, Its like nothing else. It remains one of our deepest family and cultural traditions.

Among the many authentic Calloway charts that will be heard at the concert are Minnie the Moocher, Dont Get Around Much Any More, We the Cats Shall Hep Ya, Jungle King, and If that Rhythm Dont Make You Move, Youre Square.

Born in 1907, Cab Calloway is considered one of jazzs premier entertainers. He was raised in Baltimore and moved with his family to Chicago while in his teens and studied at Crane College. His first stage appearance was in the Plantation Days show at the Loop Theatre. Cab first worked with The Missourians in New York, in 1928. In spring of 1929, he returned to Chicago and acted as the master of ceremonies and vocalist with The Alabamians.

Later that year, he traveled back to New York and appeared on stage with the Hot Chocolate Revue before rejoining The Alabamians for an appearance at the Savoy. In 1930, he took over The Missourians, eventually changing the name to Cab Calloway and His Orchestra. In 1931, Calloway recorded Minnie the Moocher, a trademark song that would remain his theme for his entire life. He soon emerged as the irrepressible leader of a band that succeeded Duke Ellington at the Cotton Club. He became known as the man in the zoot suit with the reet pleats, who brought a new slang vocabulary to the nation along with his own brand of music via early radio broadcasts and extensive touring in the 1930s and 40s.

His career did not stop with singing. He was on Broadway and the London stage with Porgy and Bess doing the character of Sportin’ Life, which he says was based on him. He also had a starring role with Pearl Bailey in the all-black Broadway revival of Hello Dolly. His movie career spanned four decades including Stormy Weather, The Cincinnati Kid and The Blues Brothers, which introduced him to an entirely new audience. He passed away in 1994.

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