Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s homage to Cab Calloway, “How Big Can You Get?: The Music of Cab Calloway,” comes off accordingly upbeat, but the drama of the Cotton Club’s quintessential showmanship is nowhere in sight.
The band’s eighth album instead proffers musicianship over moxie. This approach is fine in some respects, since no one could imitate Calloway – the man. But Calloway was so acutely ingrained in his signature songs, comparisons are hard to escape.
Lead singer Scotty Morris tries in vain to summon the Calloway growls and wails on songs such as “The Old Man of the Mountain” and “Minnie the Moocher.” Morris’ lack of range renders him helpless when the vocals should have soared.
Where’s the volume? Was Morris afraid to wake the neighbors?
The band recorded the material at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles on vintage microphones and equipment. That’s a nice nod to the music’s era, but the recording sounds flat, lacking thrilling highs, barrelhouse lows and the requisite “oomph” that such a talented group of musicians should have delivered.
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
“How Big Can You Get?: The Music of Cab Calloway” (Vanguard)
Genre: swing jazz