Feb 19, 2011

The Buzz

To begin, I absolutely love Cab Calloway. From his grandiose "Hi De Hi De Ho's" to his leg shakes and exaggerated maestro flails, he was the epitome of 1930s swing jazz. I first saw him in the Fleischer Brothers' Minnie the Moocher clip from 1932. He learned his scat style of singing and performing from Louis Armstrong (Armstrong was also a frequent source of inspiration and a collaborator for the Fleischer Brothers). Noted for his charisma (his signature dance move was called "The Buzz"), Calloway is an icon of the 1930s and it is unfortunate that despite his (and Armstrong's) well-intentioned collaborations with the Fleischer Brothers resulted in depictions that were grotesque in regards to the frequent racism that also characterized this time period. Calloway is known for his energetic and vivid stage presence that harks back to the presence of vaudeville culture. Furthermore, those familiar with Michael Jackson's Moonwalk (performed previously in street culture before Jackson's 1983 performance) should know the grandfather to this infamously popular dance style is "The Buzz". This illustrates just how much of an influence Calloway had on entertainment and American culture in the 30's and the foothold he has inadvertently maintained within contemporary society.

Born in 1907, and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Calloway died in 1994, at the age of 88.



African American Music Collection: University of Michigan

|| Post by: Stephanie Clark ||

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