Friday, March 04, 2011

Cab Calloways's Quizzicale

Very briefly Cab Calloway had his own program.  He and his orchestra were featured on his own radio program, Cab Calloway's Quizzicale. The program had two separate runs. The first was from July through September of 1941 on Mutual. It aired on Sundays 10:30-11:00pm.  In 1942 it aired Wednesdays 9:30 -10:00 pm on NBC Blue. After that he went back on tour. It ran as a "sustainer," because no sponsor could be found for a program which featured African-American as the host.  The program was broadcast from station WOR in its Mutual incarnation, while the NBC Blue version aired from a different city each week. More here.

Cab Calloway's popularity was greatly due to his twice-weekly live national radio broadcasts on NBC at the Cotton Club. Calloway also appeared on Walter Winchell's radio program. But the Quizzacale, though short-lived was something else entirely.The Quizzacale was a parody of Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge. Calloway played the role of Professor Calloway. Eddie Barefield was Brother Treadway, and Milt Hinton was Brother Sixty-Two Jones.

Barefield was a saxophonist, and clarinet player he played for Calloway from 1933-1936, but also Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Don Redman, and Bernie Moten. When working with Calloway at WOR he was a staff musician for ABC. Late in his career he actually played for The Ringling Brothers Circus. Hinton was a bassist, supposedly the most recorded bass player in history. Early in his career he played with fiddler Eddie South. Moving to Chicago he played in the Chicago scene and graduated to playing with the likes of Art Tatum and Joe Venuti. By 1935 he was playing for Zutty Singleton. It was there that Calloway discovered and then drafted him. He stayed with Calloway's orchestra until it was disbanded in 1951.

Eddie Barefield died of a heart-attack in New York on January 4, 1991. Milt Hinton died six years later in the same city, at the age of 90. Cab Calloway out lived Eddie by 3 years, making it to 86 years old.