Panel 3: On the Road with Cab Calloway

Described under the heading Accessible Text
Exhibit Panel 3


Audio Clips for Panel 3

1. Milt Hinton discussing life on the road with the Cab Calloway Orchestra:


2. Selections from “Minnie the Moocher,” (recorded February 2, 1942), Okeh 4753; and “Pluckin’ the Bass,” (recorded August 30, 1939) Vocalion 5406:


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Accessible Text

Following is the complete text of the Panel 3 image.

On the Road with Cab Calloway

In 1936 everything changed for Milt when he joined the world-famous Cab Calloway Orchestra. Cab’s band did it all—holding residencies at New York’s Cotton Club, playing on national radio shows, touring the country, and starring on the big screen.

Though they travelled on a private Pullman railway car and earned a great salary, the band still dealt with racism. Jim Crow was in full effect, and accommodations on the road were separate and anything but equal.

The Calloway band included some of the best players of the era: Dizzy Gillespie, Ben Webster, Chu Berry, and Illinois Jacquet, just to name a few. The musicians were stars, but by the 1950s big bands were losing their popularity, and Calloway was forced to break up his orchestra.

Milt returned to Queens, NY, where he and his wife had bought a home a few years earlier. With one brief exception, it would be decades before Milt would go back on the road.

Background image:
Milt’s weekly paystubs from Cab Calloway, 1947–1948

Banner from left to right:
Three examples of Milt’s touring schedule; two advertisements for Calloway performances; drink coaster from the Panther Room where Milt was performing, 1940s

Milt with Cab Calloway, Havana, 1951

Cab Calloway Orchestra, ca. 1936

Advertisement for Calloway performance, ca. 1949

An Insider’s Lens

Milt received his first camera as a gift in 1935, and he took over 60,000 photographs over the next six decades. His insider’s view captured revealing moments about the life of a musician: on the road, in the studios, and in performance.

Milt Hinton, 1959
Photo by Chuck Stewart, used with permission