Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Reflected Glory: Langston Hughes, The Weary Blues

So, according to YouTube, 133,000 people have already seen this.

This post is for the other 6.8 billion of you.

This awesome video features the poem The Weary Blues by Langston Hughes, as read by Allen Dwight Callahan. The visuals are of Cab Calloway. If you're older than me, or if you're a big-band buff, you'll know Calloway as one of the great bandleaders of the 30s and 40s. Otherwise, you'll recognize him as the Hi-De-Hi-De-Hi-De-Ho dude from The Blues Brothers.

This is part of the Moving Poetry Series by Four Seasons Productions.

Also, apropos of nothing, here's a little Cab Calloway fun fact. He apparently fired trumpet player Dizzy Gillespie from his band in 1941 following an "incident" between the two. According to Gillespie's wikipedia page,
Calloway did not approve of Dizzy's mischievous humor, nor of his adventuresome approach to soloing; according to [band member Jonah] Jones, Calloway referred to it as “Chinese music.” During one performance, Calloway saw a spitball land on the stage, and accused Dizzy of having thrown it. Dizzy denied it, and the ensuing argument led to Calloway striking Dizzy, who then pulled out a switchblade knife and charged Calloway. The two were separated by other band members, during which scuffle Calloway was cut on the hand. 
I wonder what ever happened to Gillespie's "Chinese music" style.

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