One can be forgiven for mistaking the heartbeat bass line and the off-kilter, syncopated hand drumming in this 2-minute heavy chant as being part of the Jamaican Nyabinghi tradition. Note the special effect at song’s end — somewhat “high tech” for King in 1954:
“Oooh-Diga-Gow” Cecil Young Quartet 1954
And yet, this King track by the Cecil Young Quartet, according to Michel Ruppli King Labels discography, was recorded December 7, 1953 in Cincinnati. But where – given the live audience sounds – exactly? We the listeners can only presume that stage movements and vocal inflections, designed to accentuate the “meaning” of the lyrics, are what’s eliciting periodic bursts of laughter. To make sense of the laughs, it is imperative, given the lack of accompanying video, that the listener consult his or her inner oracle.
“Oooh-Diga-Gow” was originally a B-side that enjoyed release on 78 as well as 45. Five years later, King would reissue the song on Audio Lab LP, Jazz on the Rocks. One Ebay ad for this song (with no reference to the A-side) describes the music as “rare jazz exotica Yma Sumac,” while another seller would go even further.
King’s art department would turn out some delightful ‘cool jazz’ covers for Cecil Young and his crew during their short run with the label 1953-54:
Photo courtesy Univ of Wash Libraries – from a 1951 concert available online
Auction prices for the Cecil Young Quartet on vinyl are not too shabby.