Cab Calloway

The Classic Tracks [Kaz]

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The title of this 74-minute, 25-song compilation implies a more definitive collection than it actually contains. True, some of Cab Calloway's most memorable early-1930s performances, among them "Minnie the Moocher" and "Kickin' the Gong Around," are included, along with many excellent late-'30s and early-'40s instrumental tracks featuring such sidemen as Mario Bauza, Chu Berry, Doc Cheatham, Cozy Cole, Dizzy Gillespie, Tyree Glenn, and Milt Hinton. Along with some stupendous examples of Calloway's scatting ability and manic vocal style, such as "Harlem Camp Meeting," there are hot instrumentals like "Hot Toddy" and "Moon Glow." It's just that the selection constitutes more of a sampler than a best-of, since Calloway also recorded a lot of other "classic tracks," many of them more popular than some of the ones here. And a gap of more than four years, 1934 to 1938, halfway through makes for a jarring transition from the Cotton Club-era band focused on Calloway's personality to the later swing band with its hot solos.