Christopher Calloway Brooks has been keeping his grandfather Cab Calloway’s legacy alive through his orchestra’s lively performances.
On Augutst 5, the Cab Calloway Orchestra will perform in Astoria Park as part of the Waterfront Concert Series presented by the Central Astoria Local Development Coalition.
The orchestra will perform a number of songs popularized by Calloway, including “Minnie the Moocher” which was the first album by an African American bandleader to sell one million copies.
The tune’s famous call-and-response “hi-de-hi-de-ho” chorus — improvised when he couldn’t recall a lyric — became Calloway’s signature phrase for the rest of his career.
Calloway rose to prominence performing at Harlem’s legendary Cotton Club in the 30s and 40s. He passed away in 1994 at the age of 86.
“I was honored, but I was always talking to my family about it,” Brooks said about taking over his grandfather’s band. “I was the only one with formal musical training in the family. It has continued to be a great honor throughout the years to carry forward his legacy.”
Brooks tries to recreate the experience of seeing his grandfather, including wearing his classic zoot suit on stage.
“I try to do a couple of costume changes in between numbers, and I think people can look forward to seeing that out in Queens,” Brooks said. “I adapt certain aspects of his performance style, but I also put my own stamp on it.
“I think as time passes, my intention for the orchestra is to do more new music and less repertory music,” he added.