Baby Cox

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Jazz and blues history is full of mystery figures, talented performers who record a few times and then are never heard from again, leaving listeners only their records. In the case of Baby Cox, almost…
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Jazz and blues history is full of mystery figures, talented performers who record a few times and then are never heard from again, leaving listeners only their records. In the case of Baby Cox, almost nothing is known about her, and yet her four recordings feature a talented scat singer who was in some ways ahead of her time. Nothing is known about Baby Cox's birth or death dates or places. For a long time it was not even definitely known if Cox was a female, although because she had a role in the Broadway musical Hot Chocolates in 1929 as Gertrude Cox, at least her sex has become established. What is definite is that a year after Adelaide Hall made history with Duke Ellington when he used her wordless voice as an instrument on "Creole Love Call," Ellington reached beyond his orchestra to feature another mostly wordless singer. On the record date of October 1, 1928, Baby Cox scatted quite effectively on "The Mooche," matching her skills with that of guest guitarist Lonnie Johnson. The same day she engaged in a memorable tradeoff with cornetist Bubber Miley on an explosive "Hot and Bothered." Cox returned to the studios with Ellington on October 30 to scat a chorus of "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," a song that she remade with Duke on November 10. The later version was not released until the 1980s. Otherwise, Baby Cox appeared in Hot Chocolates and in 1933 resurfaced to appear in the obscure show Humming Sam. Beyond that, nothing is known about the elusive Baby Cox.