Cab Kaye

b. Augustus Kwamlah Nii-lante Quaye, 3 September 1921, London, England, d. 13 March 2000, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The son of an English music hall artist and Ga (Ghanaian) pianist Caleb Jonas Kwamlah…
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Artist Biography

b. Augustus Kwamlah Nii-lante Quaye, 3 September 1921, London, England, d. 13 March 2000, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The son of an English music hall artist and Ga (Ghanaian) pianist Caleb Jonas Kwamlah Quaye (who, as ‘Mope Desmond’, played with Sidney Bechet in London in 1921), Kaye began his singing career with Billy Cotton. As ‘Young Cab’, he sang and played percussion with drummer Ivor Kirchin, then in 1940 joined Ken ‘Snakehips’ Johnson, with whom he broadcast on several occasions until the outbreak of World War II. Injuries sustained while serving in the Merchant Navy led to hospitalization in New York, where he later toured clubs in Harlem and Greenwich Village and sat in with Roy Eldridge and Sandy Williams. Returning to England, Kaye joined clarinettist Harry Parry and accordionist Tito Burns, subsequently appearing with the big bands of Vic Lewis and Ted Heath. In the early 50s, Kaye organized a band to play dances for newly-arrived Caribbean settlers, and with it made two extended trips to Europe.

In Holland, he met Charlie Parker and renewed his acquaintance with Eldridge. Kaye was a popular figure on the burgeoning London bebop scene, where he worked with Dennis Rose, the music’s local éminence gris. Kaye found his natural audiences in the ‘after hours’ milieu epitomised by the Ringside Club, Paris, where he sang with Americans such as James Moody. In 1960, he worked with Humphrey Lyttelton, then appeared at Ronnie Scott’s Club before moving to West Africa. In 1961, he occupied an entertainments post in Ghana during the Nkrumah regime, then lived briefly in Nigeria before returning to England in 1973. Settling finally in Amsterdam, he opened Cab’s Piano Bar. He recorded with clarinettist Keith Bird (1949), arranger Ken Moule (1954), Lyttelton (1960), and several times under his own name (1951, 1952, 1984). Kaye, by his first marriage to singer Theresa Austin, was the father of singer/conga drummer Terri Naa-Koshie Quaye and guitarist Caleb Quaye (ex-Bluesology, Hookfoot and Elton John). He is also the father of singer Finlay Quaye.