Cab Kaye

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Cab Kaye
Cab Kaye by Dixie Solleveld.jpg
Photo Dixie Solleveld
Background information
Birth name Nii-lante Augustus Kwamlah Quaye
Also known as Cab Quaye, Cab Quay, Kwamlah Quaye, Kwamla Quaye, Nii Lante Quaye, Kab Kay
Born (1921-09-03)3 September 1921
London, UK
Origin Camden, London, England
Died 13 March 2000(2000-03-13) (aged 78)
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Genres Jazz, blues, bebop
Occupation(s) Musician, composer, entertainer
Instruments Vocals, drums, piano, guitar
Years active 1936–1996

Nii-lante Augustus Kwamlah Quaye (3 September 1921 – 13 March 2000), better known as Cab Kaye, was an English jazz singer, pianist, band leader, entertainer, drummer, guitarist and songwriter of Ghanaian and Dutch descent. He was influenced by Billie Holiday and often accompanied himself on piano[clarify] with a graceful rhythmic style. He combined blues, bebop, stride and scat with the music of his African and Ghanaian musical heritage.


Cab Kaye, also known as Cab Quay, Cab Quaye and Kwamlah Quaye, was born on St. Giles High Street in Camden, London to a musical family. His Ghanaian great-grandfather was an asafo warrior drummer and his grandfather, Henry Quaye, was an organist for the Methodist Mission church in the former Gold Coast, now called Ghana. Cab's mother, Doris Balderson, sang in English music halls and his father, Caleb Jonas Quaye (born 1895 in Accra, Ghana), performed under the name Ernest Mope Desmond as musician, band leader, pianist and percussionist. With his blues piano style, Caleb Jonas Quaye became popular around 1920 in London and Brighton with his band "The Five Musical Dragons" in Murray's Club with, among others, Arthur Briggs, Sidney Bechet and George "Bobo" Hines.

When Cab Kaye was only four months old, his father was killed in a railway accident in Blisworth, Northamptonshire, on 27 January 1922, on his way to perform in a concert.[1] Cab, his mother and his sister Norma moved to Portsmouth, where a life insurance policy provided temporary financial support.[2] Between the ages of nine and twelve he spent three years in hospital while a tumour in his neck was irradiated. British radiation therapy was still in its infancy, and Kaye's treatment was experimental. A permanent scar remained on the left side of his neck.

His first instruments were timpani, introduced to him by a Canadian soldier who taught him how to count[clarify] and use the mallets. At fourteen, Kaye began to visit nightclubs where coloured musicians were welcome, for example the "Shim Sham" and "The Nest"; he eventually won first prize in a song contest, a tour with the Billy Cotton band. During this tour, he met the African-American trombonist and tap dancer Ellis Jackson. Jackson convinced Cotton to engage Cab as an assistant, and as a singer in his band. Originally engaged as a tap dancer with Billy Cotton's show band in 1936, Cab recorded his first song "Shoe Shine Boy" under the name Cab Quay.

The war years[edit]

During 1937 Kaye played drums and percussion with Doug Swallow and his band in April, the Hal Swain Band in the summer, and Alan Green's band in September in Hastings, England. Until 1940 he sang and drummed with the Ivor Kirchin Band, with Steve Race on piano, in the Paramount Dance Hall on Tottenham Court Road, London, where he was one of the only black people around. When a guest was refused entrance because of their skin colour, Kaye refused to perform. The incident led to the regular acceptance of black people, and the Paramount Dance Hall grew into a sort of "Harlem of London".[3] After a short period with Britain's first black swing band leader, Ken "Snakehips" Johnson (and His Rhythm Swingers), Kaye played in several radio broadcasts. Shortly thereafter he joined the British Merchant Navy, which provided support services to the allies during World War II. Three days after Kaye enlisted, Ken "Snakehips" Johnson and saxophonist David Williams were killed on 8 March 1941, when a bomb fell on the Café de Paris nightclub in London's West End where they were performing. Around this time Kaye's mother was also killed when her house in Portsmouth was the only house on her street to be hit by a bomb.

While on leave from the Merchant Navy, Kaye sang with Don Mario Barretto in London. His ship was hit by a torpedo in the Pacific Ocean in 1942. Kaye was saved, but the convoy continued to be attacked by enemy ships, and during the following three nights two other ships were sunk. These experiences stayed with Cab for the rest of his life, and explain his fear of fireworks. But the adventure was not over - en route to an Army hospital in New York he was badly hurt when his plane crashed, just before landing. While recuperating in New York, he went to concerts and played in clubs in Harlem and Greenwich Village with the trumpet player Roy Eldridge, trombonist Sandy Williams, Slam Stewart, Pete Brown, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Willie "The Lion" Smith. The story was told in a two-page article in Melody Maker (December 1942) headlined: “TORPEDOED... SHIPWRECKED... INJURED... BUT HE MET ALL THE SWING STARS!”[4] After his return to London, Kaye sang in February and April 1943 with clarinettist Harry Parry, then with the "Princes of Rhythm"[clarify],[5] and formed a band[clarify] that played in 1943 and 1944 in The Orchard Club on Wigmore Street and included a 16-year-old Ronnie Schatt (Ronnie Scott) on sax, and Ralph Sharon and Dick Katz on piano[clarify].

After the war[edit]

In 1946, Cab Kaye sang for the British troops in Egypt and India with Leslie "Jiver" Hutchinson's "All Coloured Band". After that, he performed as a singer and entertainer in Belgium. In 1947, he returned to London to sing in the bands of guitarist Vic Lewis, trombonist and bandleader Ted Heath, the bebop accordionist Tito Burns and the band "Jazz in the Town Hall". That year, Kaye was voted number thirteen by the readers of Melody Maker in their annual Jazz Poll.

From 1948 he performed mainly as the orchestra leader of his own bands, such as "The Ministers of Swing", which featured saxophonists Ronnie Scott and Johnny Dankworth and the bebop guru pianist Denis Rose. For the new wave of London musicians from the West Indies, as well as the English musicians, Kaye was an inspiration as band leader. In 1949 he played with Tommy Pollard (piano, accordion, vibes), Cecil Jacob "Flash" Winston (drums, vocals and piano) and Paul Fenhoulet's Orchestra, a band that always included top jazz musicians. On 13 October 1949 Kaye recorded with clarinettist Keith Bird and The Esquire Six.

In this period he also led "Cab Kaye and his Coloured Orchestra" and co-led "The Cabinettes" with Ronnie Ball, featuring "blues singer" Mona Baptiste from Trinidad. Both of these bands played regularly in the Fabulous Feldman Club (100 Oxford Street, London), featuring Kaye on electric guitar. Kaye's band was, in 1948, the first musical ensemble featuring people of colour to play in Amsterdam's Concertgebouw. With his "All Coloured Band",[6] featuring Dave Wilkins, Henry Shalofsky (Hank Shaw) and Sam Walker, Cab Kaye then toured in France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands in 1950 and 1951. In Paris at the end of the 1940s early 1950s, Kaye met Tadd Dameron, who was then playing with Miles Davis. Dameron gave Kaye his first and only piano lesson. In the Club St. Germain, Kaye played with guitarist Django Reinhardt, who had become more interested in bebop. Also in Paris, Cab reunited with Roy Eldridge, who introduced him to Don Byas, probably in Dick Edward's jazz club Ringside (later the Blue Note) on Rue Thérèse. The Ringside was frequented by such jazz musicians as pianist Art Simmons, Annie Ross (later of Lambert, Hendricks & Ross), saxophonist James Moody, Pierre Michelot (bassist, band leader and composer) and poet/vocalist Babs Gonzales.

In 1950 Kaye played in the Netherlands. "Cab Kaye's combo comes to Rotterdam", Cab Kaye and "seven negro musicians" as the Dutch jazz magazine Rhythm reported on 15 February 1950, "brings a program in the style of Louis Jordan, but also South American music and calypsos". Kaye played the entire month of March 1950 in the Rotterdam club Parkzicht with jazz trumpeter Dave Wilkins from Barbados, the Jamaican tenor saxophonist and clarinetist George Tyndale, Sam Walker (tenor sax), Cyril Johnson (piano), Rupert Nurse (bass), Cliff Anderson (drums) and Chico Eyo (bongos). While in the Netherlands, a performance with the "Skymasters" was recorded by the Dutch radio network AVRO in May 1950 (according to Melody Maker the performance was broadcast on 17 May 1950). In the same period a performance featuring Cab Kaye was broadcast on the television programme Music All In by the Dutch television and radio organisation TROS (see: Jazz & Improvised Music in the Netherlands, 1978).

In 1951, Kaye recorded with Astraschall records in Germany, with George Tyndale (tenor sax), Dave Wilkins (trumpet), Sam Walker (tenor sax), Cyril Johnson (piano), Owen Stephens (bass) and Aubrey Henry (drums). Kaye also regularly accompanied saxophonist Don Byas on piano in the early 1950s.

The 1950s and Hot Sauce[edit]

Between December 1950 and May 1951, Cab Kaye's Latin American Band was booked by Lou van Rees to tour France, Germany and The Netherlands (where Kaye met Charlie Parker, among other notables). In the Netherlands, Kaye played in the newly opened "Avifauna" in Alphen aan den Rijn, the world's first bird park. In a turn of fate, he first met his later wife Jeannette at Avifauna when she was a little girl. The reprise came 30 years later when Cab and Jeannette married.

In 1951 Kaye played a small role in the movie Sensation in San Remo, directed by Georg Jacoby. Although the New Musical Express announced "Cab Kaye gets Big Film Break" on 20 March 1953,[7] the movie was not a success and soon disappeared from cinemas; though it was not to be his last time in front of a camera. Further exposure came with his shows in the Montpellier Buttery Club where, according to a flyer, he performed his "Afro-Cuban music" and organised dance contests - cha-cha, mambo and jive. Prizes were presented by jazz stars such as Tony Crombie and Ronnie Scott. In 1952 he recorded with the Gerry Moore Trio on the first of March and the Norman Burns Quintet on the seventeenth of May. From late 1952 to mid-1953 Cab played with drummer Tommy Jones from Liverpool and bassist/guitarist Brylo Ford from Trinidad. In 1953 Brylo Ford and Deacon Jones (drums) played in a trio of Cab's that was featured in the movie Blood Orange, directed by Terence Fisher.

Kaye led various multi-ethnic bands, usually consisting of musicians from British, African and West Indian origin. Later that year he was in the revue entitled "Memories of Jolson",[8] a musical based on the life of Al Jolson, featuring sixteen-year-old Shirley Bassey. The show toured Scotland but Kaye pulled out after the first performance on the grounds of its racism.[9] Kaye decided to focus increasingly on variety shows according to Melody Maker in 1953, and he founded a theatre booking agency, Black and White Productions Ltd, to book small theatre and film roles for himself and other musicians.[10] His career as a businessman did not last long and he soon concentrated again on making music.

A 5 July 1953 flyer from Jephson Gardens Pavilion announced Cab Kaye and his orchestra with a special attraction, "America's Queen of the Ivories” Mary Lou Williams. The band featured; Dizzy Reece (trumpet), Pat Burke (tenor sax), Dennis Rose (piano), Denny Coffey (bass) and Dave Smallman (bongo & conga). They also accompanied the jitterbug and tap dancer Josephine (Josie) Woods, and performed as "Cab Kaye's jazz septet" at the London Palladium in 1953, as well as using other names. Several different types of appearances followed, including performances with "Old Black Magic" singer Billy Daniels and pianist Benny Payne (New Wimbledon Theatre, 26 July 1953).

Kaye performed in the Kurhaus at Scheveningen in The Netherlands in 1953. That same year, Melody Maker reported that a very hot sauce with a secret recipe, "Cab's secret" was sold in a number of shops on Archer Street (East Finchley) in London. Although popular among Cab's friends for many years, the sauce never became a commercial success. At the end of 1953, Cab formed a cabaret act with Josie Woods, "the Two Brown Birds of Rhythm". Again in Paris's "Ring Side" club, this time announced as "Kab Kay", he accompanied Eartha Kitt on piano. In April 1954 he played the role of "Kenneth – the coloured singer" in the film The Man Who Loved Redheads, written by Terence Rattigan, directed by Harold French and produced by British Lion Films. The film is about an innocent boy who meets a red-haired girl (Moira Shearer), and can't forget her.[11] Kaye received a salary of £35 per day.

During one of his tours of England (20 September 1954), he sang with a band led by pianist Ken Moule, and including Dave Usden (trumpet), Keith Barr, Roy Sidwell (tenor saxophone), Don Cooper (bass), Arthur Watts (bass) and Lennie Breslaw (drums). Again contracted by impresario Lou van Rees, he toured the Netherlands in 1955–1956 and performed at the Flying Dutchman club in Scheveningen. Lou van Rees had the idea to form a big band with 12 band leaders who were not often heard on the Dutch radio; including Wil Hensbergen (Wil Hensbergen Orchestra), Max Woiski Sr. (La Cubana Orchestra), vibraphonist Eddy Sanchez (Swiss Air Trio), Johnny Kraaykamp (leader of the One Man Band), Wessel Ilcken and Cab Kaye.

Also in 1956 "showman" Kaye played in Amsterdam's Sheherazade jazz club with his "All Star Quintet", consisting of Rob Pronk (piano), Toon van Vliet (tenor sax), Dub Dubois (bass) and drummer Wally Bishop. The club, nicknamed "Zade" by friends, was located in the Wagenstraat until 1962 and was a popular meeting place for jazz musicians. Later in 1956 Kaye toured Germany, and played in Hamburg, Düsseldorf and Köln, followed in 1957 by a tour of England with the Eric Delaney Band Show with Marion Williams.[12]

Kaye performed in "Cab's Quintet" on the British BBC television program Six-Five Special on 31 August 1957 (season 1, episode 29); with Laurence "Laurie" Deniz (1st guitar) and his brother Joe Deniz (2nd guitar), Pete Blannin (bass) and Harry South (piano). Around this time Kaye also performed in Oh Boy!, the first British teenage all-music show. Oh Boy was an ABC/ITV show produced by Jack Good, who had earlier produced Six-Five Special on which Kaye had appeared. That same year, Kaye was voted eleventh in Melody Maker's Jazz Music Magazine Poll. Kaye featured again on Six-Five Special on 1 March 1958 (season 1, episode 57). In 1959 he joined the ensemble of Humphrey Lyttelton in London, which led to the recording of the album Humph Meets Cab (March 1960), with his characteristic witty vocals on pieces such as "Let Love Lie Sleeping".[13]

The Manchester Evening News announced on 25 August 1960 that the next day's BBC TV Jazz Session was to feature the Dill Quintet, the Bob Wallis Storyville Jazzmen and singer Cab Kaye.[14] In the same year Kaye came ninth in Melody Maker's Jazz Poll.[15]

Swinging diplomat[edit]

On 6 March 1957, the Gold Coast became Ghana - the first sub-Saharan African country to gain its independence. Three years later, on 6 March 1960, Kwame Nkrumah became president of the republic. For Cab Kaye, Ghana's independence was an important political symbol. Two family members in high government positions, Tawia Adamafio and C. T. Nylander, had brought Kaye into contact with Ghanaian politics. During Nkrumah's reign, Kaye was appointed as the Government Entertainments Officer, and from 1961 worked at the Ghana High Commission in London as protocol officer.[16] As such, he played a role in getting a Ghanaian passport for Miriam Makeba, whose South African passport had been revoked under the country's apartheid regime.

Probably partly influenced by both racist experiences and euphoria over Ghana's Independence, he discarded the Anglicised version of his name, Cab Kaye, and called himself Kwamlah Quaye - though some newspapers missed the "h". While his day job was working in the Ghanaian High Commission, he played at night in Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club. A farewell special for Cab Kaye, entitled Swinging Diplomat, was broadcast by the BBC in August 1961.[17] A farewell party was organised for Kaye in Ronnie Scott's club, using the slogan "He's goin 'home' with the best jazz in town".

Before leaving for Ghana, Kaye and his "Kwamlah Quaye Sextetto Africana" recorded "Everything Is Go" - the song he had written with William "Bill" Davis. With this band he made the first recordings in which he played guitar. This group consisted of: guitarist Laurence Deniz on bass, born in Cardiff in 1924 to a father from Cape Verde; Chris O'Brien, bongos, and Frank Holder - both from British Guiana (now Guyana) and served in the Royal Air Force (RAF); and Chris Ajilo on claves. "Everything is Go" was a tribute to the American astronaut John Glenn, with its "get set, blast off, this man is heading for space" being a cheerful calypso piece, strangely interwoven with the melancholy of the astronautical euphoria of the sixties. The number was played at the opening of the exhibition of the Space Shuttle in Accra on 29 May 1962 by Joe Mensah. On 17 February 1962 Kaye gained fourth place in the Melody Maker poll of leading jazz musicians. Kaye left London with big plans to work for the Ghanaian Industrial Development Corporation (IDC).[18] On arriving in Accra, he formed a duo with singer Mary Hyde, with whom he regularly performed in the Star and other hotels in Accra.

Kaye performed during a visit by Queen Elizabeth II to Ghana in November 1961.[19] As Entertainments Manager for Ghana Hotels Ltd., Kaye was less successful. Although the concerts he organised were well visited, he could not get the dance competitions on Sunday and Monday off the ground. This was reported in the Ghanaian Times (26 April 1962), which caused Kaye to finish his contract shortly afterwards. Back in the Star Hotel in 1963, he joined with drummer Guy Warren (later known as "Kofi Ghanaba") and the folk singer and activist Pete Seeger who was on a world tour, and popular in Ghana for his statements about the equality of the black Americans. Kaye played in Accra (including the famous Tip-Toe Gardens) and in Lagos, alternating with performances in New York (e.g. in the Village Door in Long Island). On 7 August 1964 he played with the trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and his quintet in a charity program to support African culture called O'Pataki - Pataki in the Yoruba language can be translated as "important".


In the early 1960s the Ghanaian Ramblers Dance Band covered Kaye's highlife song "Beautiful Ghana" under the new title "Work and Happiness". This song, released by Decca Recordings, West Africa, was frequently played during Kwame Nkrumah's regime as part of the political "Work and Happiness" program.

Nkrumah was deposed in 1966 after a military coup, which left Cab Kaye and other supporters of the previous regime in a difficult situation. He had to explain his political views behind the "Work and Happiness" song.[20] Fortunately his sister Norma had married Dr J. T. Nelson-Cole in Nigeria, and offered Kaye a new home base in Lagos. This was the end of his political career, but the Pan-Africanism of Kwame Nkrumah, calling for a politically united Africa, would remain one of the few political ideals that Kaye supported for the rest of his life.

He did not disengage entirely from political life. From 1965 Kaye played alternately in New York, Europe and Africa. He made good use of his cultural background from Africa and Europe. In the New York Amsterdam News (18 January 1965) he had a letter printed with the lines: "I am proud, I am African [...] I am proud, I am black". This text, signed by Nii Lante Quaye (657 Crotona Park, Bronx) was consistent with the ideas of the emerging Black Power movement.

He was announced in New York under the name "Nii Lante Quaye" as a special act, as he was in a flyer announcing Cab Kaye as a guest artist in the show of Ed Nixon Jr (Nick La Tour) in St. Stephan's Methodist Church, Broadway, on 22 May 1966. The show master Cab Kaye was announced in Ghanaian flyers of this time as "MC" (Master of Ceremony) Cab Kaye. He performed regularly on Ghanaian and Nigerian radio and television: on 16 November 1966 in It's Time for Show Biz with the Spree City Stompers from Berlin; on 6 January 1967 with “the Paramount Eight Dance Band" on Ghanaian television's Bandstand; and on 30 July 1967 as MC at the international pop festival in Accra. In May 1968 he performed with his nephews, the Nelson Cole brothers, in Lagos, and then touring through Nigeria. The Nelson Cole brothers were his sister Norma's sons, who formed the Soul Assembly with other artists. In 1996 Kaye played again in Lagos at the Federal Palace Hotel in a program including Fela Kuti and highlife bandleader Bobby Benson.

Following his return to England in 1970, he discovered that his daughter Terri Quaye (also known as Theresa Naa-Koshie), his eldest son Caleb Quaye and his band Hookfoot, were now better known than himself from their own musical careers. He began his second London career in Mike Leroy's Chez Club Cleo in Knightsbridge, accompanied by Clive Cooper (bass) and Cecil "Flash" Winston (drums). Kaye soon became a much-requested presence on the London jazz circuit. His daughter Terri, who started singing with her father and his bebop jazz band as a young girl,[21] accompanied him at some events. Around 1973 he was accompanied by Mike Greaves (drums, percussion), Phil Bates (bass) and Ray Dempsey (guitar). The following year he was one of the attractions at the Black Arts Festival 1974, organised by the Commonwealth Institute in London. He also made regular appearances at the BBC Club (an exclusive club for BBC employees) with bassist Phil Bates and drummer Tony Crombie.

Amsterdam: Cab Kaye's Jazz Piano Bar[edit]

Cab Kaye in his Pianobar in Amsterdam

In the late 1970s, Kaye moved to Amsterdam and became a member of Buma/Stemra (the Dutch copyright organisation that oversees distribution of royalties) and the Dutch Association of Professional Improvising Musicians (BIM). In Amsterdam he performed with jazz musicians such as singer Babs Gonzales, funk-jazz flautist Wally Shorts, trombonist Bert Koppelaar, bassist Wilbur Little and conductor Boy Edgar (in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw). In the early years in Amsterdam, he rented an apartment from jazz saxophonist Rosa King and became known on the local jazz scene.

Kaye opened his own jazz club in the centre of Amsterdam on 1 October 1979, "Cab Kaye's Jazz Piano Bar" at Beulingstraat 9, with his Dutch wife Jeannette. When not touring Poland, Portugal and Iceland, he performed five nights a week in his own Piano Bar, a meeting place for jazz musicians. Frequent visitors included Rosa King, trombonist Slide Hampton, television doctor and saxophonist Aart Gisolf, guitarist Dirk-Jan "Bubblin" Toorop,[22] pianist David Mayer, singer Gerrie van der Klei, jazz pianist Cameron Japp, Max Roach, Oscar Peterson, Pia Beck and others. During this period Kaye gave many concerts in the Netherlands, including several with Max "Teawhistle" Teeuwisse in Den Oever, and four times at the North Sea Jazz Festival. The first North Sea Jazz Festival performance was with his Cab Kaye Quartet on 16 July 1978, the second was on 10 July 1981 with Akwaba Cab Kaye and his Afro Jazz, the third was in July 1982 accompanied by Aart Gisolf and Nippy Noya, and the last was as a soloist on 10 July 1983.

Kaye regularly performed at the Victoria Hotel, Amsterdam in the second half of the 1980s. On 10 October 1987 he participated in the Night of Hilversum, a charity event against polio organised by the Rotary Club, WHO and UNICEF. On 21 May 1988 "Cab Kaye's Jazz Piano Bar" closed and he began to be heard in public much less often. His final significant performance was on 8 September 1996 at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam.[23] Many musicians and jazz lovers, including Herman Openneer, Pim Gras, the Dutch jazz drummer John Engels and Rosa King, organised a birthday party for the then 75-year-old pianist. He was unable to sing due to his mouth floor cancer, but enthusiastically played piano and jammed with many musicians. He subsequently performed sporadically in smaller venues and privately in Amsterdam's Dapperbuurt. The last time Cab Kaye played piano (including "Jeannette You Are My Love") was on 12 March 2000, at home with Rosa King.

Private life[edit]

Although born in London, Kaye considered himself African. He had three marriages; first in 1939 to Theresa Austin, a jazz singer and daughter of a sailor from Barbados. Cab and Theresa often performed together. The couple had two daughters, Terri Quaye (born 8 November 1940, Bodmin), Tanya Quaye and a son, Caleb Quaye (born 1948, London). Cab met his second wife, a Nigerian named Evelyn, in the 1960s in Ghana. Together, they moved back to England. After a brief affair in 1973 with Sharon McGowan, he had a son, Finley Quaye (born 25 March 1974, Edinburgh). Cab Kaye met his son Finley as an adult[24] in 1997 following a concert of Finley's in the rock music venue and cultural centre Paradiso Amsterdam. After the concert Cab sent a messenger with a message for Finley written carefully and painstakingly on a parchment scroll. The messenger read the message to Finley and he and Cab Kaye met the following morning with Finley's band members band at the house Cab shared with his wife Jeannette in Amsterdam.

Three generations – grandfather Caleb Jonas Quaye (Ernest Mope Desmond), Kwamlah Quaye (Cab Kaye) and youngest son Finley Quaye – have all played, at different times, at Glasgow's Barrowlands, Wolverhampton's Wulfrun Hall and London's Cafe de Paris. His third wife, Jeannette, was Dutch. After marrying, he decided to settle in the Netherlands and became a Dutch citizen.

In the 1990s, Kaye was diagnosed with mouth floor cancer with the result that he lost the ability to speak. Until his death at the age of 78 (13 March 2000) in the Dapperbuurt, Kaye lived in Amsterdam, where he was cremated. His ashes were scattered in the North Sea and in Accra.

Cab Kaye's motto was: "Truth is stranger than f(r)iction (excuse my diction, I walk with a lisp)."


  • Billy Cotton and his band- 27 August 1936 – CAR-4150-1 / Regal Zonophone MR2189
    • "Shoe-Shine boy" – Cab Quay (vocals)
  • Billy Cotton & his orchestraA Nice Cup of Tea; Volume 2 – recorded 1936–1941 (1CD0198188 BD5 VOCALION – new release September 2001 – Vocalion CDEA 6053)
    • "A Little Bit Later On" – Cab Quay (vocals)
  • Jazz at the Town Hall Ensemble – 30 March 1948 (Esquire Records 10-032) – Ronnie Scott (ts), Johnny Dankworth (as), Reg Arnold (tp), Dennis Rose (p, tp), Jimmy Skidmore (ts), Bernie Fenton (p), Joe Muddel (b), Jack Fallon (b), Carlo Krahmer (d), Cab Kaye (vocals)
  • Keith Bird and The Esquire Six – 13 October 1949 (Eng. Esquire m-7-96 – Esquire I0-046—5s. 9d.) – Keith Bird (cl), Tommy Pollard (vib), Ralph Sharon (p), Dave Goldberg (g), Charlie Short (b) and Carlo Krahmer (d)
  • Cab Kaye and his Band – May 1951 (Astraschall AW4001 & AWAW4005, Germany) – Dave Wilkins (tp), Sam Walker, George Tyndale (ts), Cyril Johnson (p), Owen Stephens (b) and Aubrey Henry (d).
  • Cab Kaye acc. by the Gerry Moore Trio – 1 March 1952 (Esquire 5-061 & 5-065) – Gerry Moore (p), Cliff Dunn (g) and Bill Bramwell (b).
  • Cab Kaye acc. by the Norman Burns Quintet – 17 May 1952 (Esquire 5-079) – Johnnie Ashcombe (vib), Basil Tait (p), Len Williams (g), Bert Daniels (b) and Norman Burns (d).
  • Cab Kaye with the Ken Moule Seven – 20 September 1954 (Esquire 10-406 (UK) 6S. sid.) – Cab Kaye (vocals, conga), Dave Usden (trumpet), Keith Barr (tenor saxophone), Roy Sidwell (tenor saxophone), Don Cooper (baritone saxophone), Ken Moule (piano), Arthur Watts (bass) and Lennie Breslow (drums).
    • "Jelly Jelly Blues"
    • "When I Hear That Conga Drum"
  • Humphrey Lyttelton Quartet – 15 March 1960 (Humph meets Cab – Columbia Records 33SX1364) – Humphrey Lyttelton (trumpet), Ian Armit (piano), Pete Blannin (bass) and Eddie Taylor (drums)
  • Humphrey Lyttelton and his Band – 30 March 1960 (G Philips Records 8387641) – Humphrey Lyttelton (trompet), Ian Armit (piano), Pete Blannin (bass) and Eddie Taylor (drums)
  • Kwamlah Quaye Sextetto Africana – 1962 Melodisc – Cab Kaye (vocals and guitar), Laurie Deniz (guitar), Chris O'Brien (bass), Frank Holder (bongo), Chris Ajilo (claves).
    • "Son of Africa" (DA 2159)
    • "Don't You Go Away" (DA 2158)
  • Kwamlah Quaye Sextetto Africana – 1962 Melodisc – Cab Kaye (vocals and conga), Laurie Deniz (bas), Chris O'Brien (bas), Frank Holder (bongo's), Chris Ajilo (claves).
    • "Don't You Go Away"
    • "Everything Is Go"
  • Cab Kaye Trio – 23 December 1976 (Cab Kaye today – Riff, Leiden) – Chris Smildiger (bass), Ted Easton (drums) and Cab Kaye (piano)
  • Cab Kaye Trio – 10 July 1981 (Cab Kaye Live at the North Sea Jazz Festival 1981 – Philips 6423 511) – Cab Kaye (vocals, piano), Aart Gisolf (saxophone), Joop Kooger (drums), Henk Kooger (bass)
  • Lou van Rees presenteert: The album of the year' – 1982 – (Philips 6624 061) – Live recording
    • "Harlem Cabaret" (potpourri – "Lulu's Back in Town", "Your Wig Is Gone", "Poppity poppity pop")
  • Cab Kaye 'live'- The Key – 20 August 1984 (Keytone, Amsterdam) – Live recorded in Cab Kaye's Jazz Pianobar in Amsterdam
  • Cab Kaye – The Consul of Swing – Victoria Blues – 14 March 1986 – (The Studio production, 140386 ) – Cab Kaye (Vocals/Piano)
  • Cab Kaye in Iceland – 18 June 1986 – (Icelandic national radio) – Cab Kaye (vocals/piano), Gunnar Hrafnsson (bass), Gudmundur Steingrimsson (drums)
    • "I've Got Someone"
    • "Laughing at Life"
    • "Obrigado"
    • "Lady Bird"
    • "Empty Bed Blues"
    • "Cab's Blues"
    • "That jam in Love"
    • "52nd Street (I remember Eroll)"
    • "Farewell"
  • Cab Kaye in Iceland & Africa on Ice – October 1996 – (Icelandic national radio)
    • "Son of Africa"
    • "Ah kwili wa ba"
    • "Mete U.T.C."
    • "Mim smo bo"
    • "Iceblue"
  • Billy Cotton & His BandThings I Love About the 40's – 16 June 1998 – Additional Releases 2000
    • "Shoe Shine Boy" – Cab Quay (vocals)
  • Ginger Johnson & FriendsLondon Is The Place For Me, volume 4 – 2006 (new compilation of the 1950s) – Honest Jon's Records – HJRLP 25 36728
    • "Don't You Go Away"
    • "Everything Is Go"
  • Billy Cotton & His BandWakey Wakey! – 6 September 2005 (Living Era)
    • "Shoe Shine Boy" – Cab Quay (vocals)
  • Humphrey Lyttelton and His Quartet Band featuring Cab Kaye /High Class 1959–60 – 24 May 2011 LAKE LACD298
    • "Jealous"
    • "I Cried for You"
    • "Learnin' the Blues"
    • "I'm Gonna Lock My Heart"
    • "You Can Depend on Me"
    • "High Class Baby"
    • "When You're Smiling"
    • "My Melancholy Baby"
    • "Let Sleeping Love Lie"
    • "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone"
    • "Cab's Blues"
  • Kenny Ball's Jazzmen and Cab Kaye and His Quartet (Jazz Club – A BBC Programme, Complete as Broadcast in 1961) – 28 September 2013 ℗ 2013
    • "These Foolish Things"
    • "Baby, Won't You Please Come Home?"
    • "Dialogue" – (Cab Kaye & Nevil Skrimshire)
    • "Back in Your Own Backyard"
    • "In the Evening"
    • "Sweet Lorraine"
    • "Bye Bye Baby"


  1. ^ UK train accidents in which passengers were killed 1825–1924
  2. ^ Obituary Cab Kaye, Jazzhouse, 26 February 2008.
  3. ^ Melody Maker, 26 May 1973.
  4. ^ Melody Maker, December 1942 – “TORPEDOED... SHIPWRECKED... INJURED... BUT HE MET ALL THE SWING STARS!”
  5. ^ "Kaye, Cab" in John Chilton Who's Who of British Jazz, London: Continuum, 2004, pp. 198–199
  6. ^ "Cab Kaye launches all-coloured band", Melody Maker, 12 March 1955, p. 11.
  7. ^ New Musical Express, 20 March 1953, "Cab Kaye gets Big Film Break".
  8. ^ Steve Voce, "Obituary: Cab Kaye", The Independent, 17 March 2000.
  9. ^ Obituary: Correction, The Independent, 14 July 2000.
  10. ^ Melody Maker, 26 March 1973.
  11. ^ "Cab Kaye Gets Part in Moira Shearer Film", Melody Maker, No. 1073, 10 April 1954, pp. 8–9.
  12. ^ Advertisement – 27 January 1957, Bradford, St George's Hall, Eric Delaney Band Show with Cab Kaye and Marion Williams
  13. ^ "Cab Kaye to sing with Humph band", Melody Maker, 28 November 1959, p. 20.
  14. ^ "Singer Cab Kaye in Jazz Session, BBC TV, 26 August 1960". Archived from the original on 24 September 2008. 
  15. ^ Jazz Poll British Section, Melody Maker, 23 January 1960, p. 3.
  16. ^ Daily Mirror, 5 July 1961.
  17. ^ BBC Jazz Club, 3 August 1961, 22.40 pm.
  18. ^ Evening Standard, 14 August 1961.
  19. ^ Sunday Mirror, August 1961; Flamingo, 16 January 1962; "Ghana Jazz King peps up royal tour".
  20. ^ Evening News, 12 October 1966
  21. ^ "Music: Theresa "Terri" Quaye aka Theresa Naa-Koshie", Ghana Rising, 18 April 2011.
  22. ^ Dirk Jan "Bubbles" Toorop
  23. ^ Nederlands Jazz Archief; Pim Gras & Herman Openneer; Bimhuis – 8 September 1996; Cab Kaye 75 years.
  24. ^ "Finley weeps for 'lost' dad; Pop star's grief after reunion", The Mirror, 22 April 2000.

Further reading[edit]

  • Rainer E. Lotz, "Cab Kaye". Grove Jazz online
  • Kenny Mathieson, "Cab Kaye, jazz singer and instrumentalist", The Scotsman, 22 March 2000; reprinted in The Last Post.
  • Obituary The Times, London, 27 March 2000
  • Val Wilmer: "Cab Kaye. Musician who enlivened the British jazz scene and rediscovered his African roots", The Guardian, 21 March 2000.
  • [dead link] Obituary NME (New Musical Express)
  • Obituary – Jazz Journal International, v. 53, no. 6, June 2000.
  • Obituary – Cadence, v. 26, no. 7, July 2000.
  • John Chilton, "Cab Kaye" in Who's Who of British Jazz
  • The Mandrake Club and Cab Kaye...
  • Jack Martin: "Introducing Cab Kaye", in Anglo-German Swing Club News Sheet, No. 10 (August 1950) (F); reprinted in Horst Ansin, Marc Dröscher, Jürgen Foth & Gerhard Klußmeier (eds): Anglo-German Swing Club. Als der Swing zurück nach Hamburg kam... Dokumente 1945–1952, Hamburg: Dölling & Galitz Verlag, 2003, pp. 231–232.
  • Jack Martin: "Unser 'Date' mit Cab Kaye", in Anglo-German Swing Club News Sheet, No. 10 (August 1950); reprinted in Horst Ansin, Marc Dröscher, Jürgen Foth & Gerhard Klußmeier (eds): Anglo-German Swing Club. Als der Swing zurück nach Hamburg kam... Dokumente 1945–1952, Hamburg: Dölling & Galitz Verlag, 2003, pp. 235–238.
  • Laurie Morgan: Cab Kaye, Jazz at Ronnie Scott's, No. 124 (May/June 2000), p. 12.
  • Obituary – Overleden: Cab Kaye, NJA Bulletin, No. 36 (June 2000), p. 18.
  • Val Wilmer: Obituaries. Cab Kaye, Jazz Journal, 53/6 (June 2000), pp. 15, 53.
  • Larmes. Cab Kaye, Jazz Hot, No. 573 (September 2000), p. 6.
  • Pim Gras: "The Cab Kaye Story", NJA Bulletin, No. 37 (September 2000), pp. 17–18.
  • Ian Carr, Digby Fairweather, Brian Priestley: The Rough Guide to Jazz, Rough Guides Ltd, 2005, p. 430. ISBN 1-84353-256-5.
  • BBC SIX FIVE SPECIAL, Season 1, Episode #1.29 (31 August 1957), featuring Cab Kaye

External links[edit]