Around 1980, I made a trip to Washington, to see for the first time, one of my favorite jazz singers, Cab Calloway. He was appearing at a Georgetown club, since closed called Charlie's. It was a fairly new dinner club and had a nice ambiance but probably suffered from what so many jazz clubs do, a lack of patrons.
Cab appeared in an all-white tuxedo, and from the minute he hit the stage anyone who was near had to know that we were in the hands of a master. Someone who comes alive, who is so at home on stage and has the ability to convay to the audience that even though this is old hat to me, "I'm going to make this night something special for you"!
I only remember a couple of specific songs, I've Got A Right To Sing The Blues which brought out that great range that Cab had as a vocalist. I also remember, Minnie the Moocher. How could you go see Cab Calloway and not remember, Minnie? He had everybody Hi Di Hoing.
Cab's daughter was touring with her father and she joined him at some point and it was a thrill to see a little of the Calloway family tree.
I don't remember if Cab told this story then or if it's something that I have seen elsewhere, but here goes: Cab claimed the credit for part of Nat King Cole's vocal success. He said that he had talked to the young Nat about ennuciating his words more clearly. Cab as a serious vocal student was concerned and proudly told the audience that it had payed off, for when Nat sang Mona Lisa everyone could understand the words!
It was a wonderful musical evening, that gave me a rare chance to say that I had seen a jazz legend and that he had lived up to every expectation.