Jumpin’ Jive With Cab Calloway: My Pop Culture Fix

I adore Cab Calloway.  This song especially sets my feet tapping, and I’m always blown away by his talent.  At 1:22 he starts scatting in a way that modern R&B artists would envy.   The nightclub audience jumps and jives in their seats, just beautiful.  I wish ordinary nightclubs still had live music acts like that as a matter of course.   At 2:54 you see a gorgeous musical motion conversation between the dancers and the piano player.  Keep watching to 3:40, the moves they perform with the oversize staircase will delight you.  My husband winces every time he sees it.  Such class and skill.

On the subject of incredible entertainers from the era, how about some Dorothy Dandridge?

Chattanooga Choo-Choo.  Glenn Miller popularized it, but a quick YouTube search shows a wide variety of versions.  Pop songs used to focus more on the music and lyrics; many different singers would perform their own versions.  I’m not a music historian, it is my own observation.  A song itself would be the hit of the week or month or year and each performer put their own spin on it.  This is my favorite version of Chattanooga Choo Choo.  I love Dorothy’s coy sexuality, barely reigned in.   The cheeky trombone player at 0:10 is Glenn Miller I believe. 

Oh Dorothy, thank you for making the distinction between sexy and salacious.

Josephine Baker could define salacious but for her obvious humor and her great talent.  You can see she dances as her own way celebration of her body and life, not merely to excite sexual interest.  She was widely persecuted in the U.S. and so moved to Paris, where the French took her in as one of their own.  The French still remember her.


  1. Earlier today I was listening to a version of Jumpin' Jive by Colin James and it's been in my head all day. What a coincidence.

  2. Oh my word, the Nicholas brothers! My husband and I revere them, amateurs though we are. We first saw them in Down Argentine Way, or something, and then again in Stormy Weather with Lena Horne. Holy crap. I'm gonna say it right here: best dancers EVER in the history of dance.Of course, who doesn't love La Baker?!And don't even get me started on Scat-man Cab… I've been a fan since he was on Sesame Street. Good taste!

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