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Jazz group offers a dose of "hi-dee-ho'

Growing up in Washington, D.C., Christopher Brooks remembers seeing his grandfather perform jazz for appreciative audiences.

But his elder was no ordinary musician.

Brooks is the grandson of legendary jazz great Cab Calloway, best known for his catch phrase "hi-dee-ho" and songs like Minnie the Moocher.

On Saturday, the Cab Calloway Orchestra will bring the family's legendary boogie, blues and jazz to the Hernando High School Performing Arts Center under the direction of Brooks' baton.

"Granddad used to say, "I'm a performing artist, not a recording artist,' " said Brooks, who performs under the name of Calloway Brooks. "Audiences will get that Calloway feeling: fun, tight ensemble work, authenticity, freshness, nice staging and presentation. That's what you get as well."

Because his parents both worked full time, Brooks' famous grandfather occasionally served as a musical babysitter to his grandson.

"My earliest memory of him is watching him rehearse the band at the old Shoreham Blue Room in Washington, D.C., when I was about 4 or 5 years old," he said. "That was absolutely the most fascinating thing I had ever seen."

After that, Brooks says, he was never the same.

Calloway's grandson by the first of three wives, Brooks began playing guitar when he was 7 and won his first musical award at age 11. He went on to graduate from the New England Conservatory of Music.

Brooks says he was lucky enough to work with his grandfather on and off for about 15 years. Not long after his grandfather's death in 1994, Brooks gathered hundreds of the original scores from Calloway's golden era and some of New York's finest jazz musicians to perform many orchestrations that had never been recorded. That, he said, was the birth of what is now the Cab Calloway Orchestra.

If you go

WHAT: The Cab Calloway Orchestra

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Hernando High School Performing Arts Center, 700 Bell Ave., Brooksville.

ADMISSION: Reserved seats are $18. Call 799-5577.

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