Cab Calloway and the Nicholas Brothers: Jumpin’ Jive
I had the good fortune to grow up in a household that had a compilation album featuring this song, so my first taste of the poetic brilliance of Cab Calloway came at an early age, and this song remains my favorite of his many wonderful tunes.
I also vividly remember seeing the Nicholas Brothers on television when I was little and marveling at their springy steps and signature split jumps, which are featured heavily in this video.
This is a clip from Stormy Weather, and the song is shortened a bit here to make room for the dancing, but if you’d like to hear it in its entirety, here is a copy of the recording I was raised on. It’s so great.
In 1993, I saw Cab Calloway perform at the Bumbershoot Festival in Seattle. When I saw his name on the program, I thought, You mean he’s still alive? He was, in fact, only 86 years old, and while he couldn’t quite dance as he used to, his clever wordplay and booming voice were still a delight. Because he started so young, playing nightclubs while he was still in his teens, he lived to become a sort of living ambassador of a lost era, a time traveler from the heyday of Harlem. He died the following year.
May we all live to be time travelers and relish it as much as he seemed to.
Happy New Year everyone!