My wife and I had coffee at a shop a while back, and mysteriously they were playing an original 78 RPM of Cab Calloway performing “Minnie the Moocher”. It was mysterious because no one has record players anymore, and if they do they don’t play 78s. Also, it was near my secret volcano lair, in a region where old-style American jazz is now nearly unknown. Truly unexpected.
Anyways, we had never heard anything as cool–or outrageous–in our lives. Since then, I have tried to track down the recording I heard at the shop, but it has been to no avail. Instead, here is the original Betty Boop cartoon from 1932, which made both Boop and Cab Calloway stars, and icons of the Jazz Age.
While the video is worth watching in full, the opening bit contains perhaps the earliest footage of Calloway and his band. Calloway’s dancing may be slow, but Michael Jackson had nothing on him. Young people think that they invented and define cool, but in truth there is nothing new under the sun. No doubt, Calloway stole both his moves and his sound from some older performers, which would make the moonwalk at least one-hundred-years old.