Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Aristocrats: The Jungle King

Cab Calloway & His Orchestra: The Jungle King


I bought my first Cab Calloway album when I was thirteen - his energy, flamboyant stage presence and style equated to Rock And Roll before it even had a name. I was enamored by his powerful voice, he claimed his full throated style came from listening to cantors sing in neighboring synagogues during his in Baltimore childhood. I was lucky enough to catch him perform in a small Hollywood Jazz club during the eighties, he seldom used a microphone, that legendary voice still filled the air.

The Jungle King is one of Cab's better numbers, it's based on The Signifyin' Monkey, which is older than the hills - from Wikipedia:

There are numerous stock songs and narratives concerning the Signifying Monkey and his interactions with his friends, the Lion and the Elephant. In general the stories see the Signifying Monkey insulting the Lion, but claiming that he is only repeating the Elephant’s words. The Lion then confronts the Elephant, who soundly beats the Lion. The Lion later comes to realize that the Monkey has been signifyin(g) and has duped him and returns angrily.

Enjoy Cab Calloway sing how the King of the Jungle was reduced to tears by a wise monkey - a lesson wrapped in Jazzy Jive from the Hepcat King himself.

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