From 1932 to the late 1940’s the period covered by this set, Cab had an orchestra that was about as swinging a band of solid senders as you’d find on the big-band circuit.
Cab projects, in his singing on records, something of the vital magic of his stage presence, a boundless exuberance and enthusiasm. His orchestral backing during the Thirties and Forties included many well-known names in jazz. At various times, Milt Hinton, Danny Barker and Cozy Cole were in his rhythm section.The reeds included the late, great Chu Berry as well as Ben Webster. Dizzy Gillespie was in the band, some members of which, at odd moments, served as a laboratory for the style to be called Bop. “This whole new chord structure idea was interesting to me,” Milt Hinton recalled, “and I would walk the new chords behind his playing.” Cab wasn’t the least enthusiastic. Danny Barker quoted him as saying, “I don’t want you playing that Chinese music in my band.”
The main attraction, however, was always Cab—showman, singer, entertainer. Most audiences didn’t even know that some of his sidemen were candidates for the jazz hall of fame. And that was as it should be. The musicians’ first function was to provide musical backing and a musical setting for the man who was being called “King of the Hipsters,” and this they did, wonderfully well. It was as Barry Ulanov noted in Metronome ( January, 1943) a band extraordinary in every respect, hailed for its “clean musicianship, its jazz kicks, its brilliant showmanship.”