We’ve written only two posts so far about Hugh Morton’s jazz photographs, so it seemed like a good time for another post. Here goes . . . and if you promise not to bust your conk, I’ll promise not to beat up my chops!
Among the unidentified jazz negatives are three that I suspected from the music stands (and later confirmed) are from a Cab Calloway performance. We can’t say where the frolic pad for the show was, so please beef us if you are hep to that. If you were there, then I’m sure it must have been a real killer-diller with plenty of mitt pounding, so please slide your jib about it with the rest of us. If not and you dig research, get in there!
In the photograph above, Calloway looks dicty, in a fine vine, with two buddy-ghees wearing some hard drapes. Actually, all three gates are togged to the bricks!!! One photograph only shows an unknown canary, a fine dinner donning flowery dry-goods that may be Calloway’s older sister Blanche . . . but that’s just a guess.
And the third photograph depicts Calloway and the chirp above hittin’ some Armstrongs.
Just having these negatives is a real mezz, but their condition is sadder than a map. The 127 format roll film negatives are on an acetate base, and antihalation layer deterioration has caused them to have a splotchy blue discoloration. (And that’s not jive talk!) Scanning the negatives in grayscale eliminates the blue discoloration, but the images still retain a splotchy look. Despite that bring down, they are likely from the late 1930s and I suspect fairly rare.
If you got all that, then you are a hep cat that’s got your boots on! If you are unhep, you may want to consult the bible, The New Cab Calloway’s Hepster Dictionary: Language of Jive [an online list; the 1944 edition of his dictionary is an appendix in Calloway's autobiography, Of Minnie the Moocher & Me (1976).]
Pheeewww! I think I’ll head home now and guzzle some foam!