Cecil Young Quartet – in concert from 1951. Aficionados no doubt already have this or have heard about it – it comes from an amateur engineer in the Seattle area, who was also a distributor for Ampex tape; Burt Porter. He had the foresight to record, not only this show, but two others, including a gig by Ernestine Anderson – all up-and-comers from the Seattle area. All the concerts are available via Soundcloud and you really need to do yourself a favor and check them all out.
Coming in just shy of two hours, this is historic stuff – not only does it sound great it is, in the words of centennial birthday celebrant, Nat “King” Cole, “The swinginest Bop I’ve ever heard”. It’s a musical feast and both artist and audience are 100% into it.
Shortly after this show, King Records head Sid Nathan got wind of the tapes and signed Young and the Quartet to the label. A later Seattle concert, from June of 1951 served as the basis for Young’s debut lp, Concert Of Cool Jazz on king. Via some initial singles, including the memorable “Who Parked The Car?” they achieved national prominence and decided to head east for the loftier climes of New York where they toured as opener for Sarah Vaughan – and that’s when things started going south. The anticipated sales for Young’s album failed to materialize, along with the usual sidelines (drugs and alcohol) and the band splintered off. Cecil Young never came back to Seattle, although he continued playing and was rumored to still have been active up to the time of his death in 1975.
Far from being one of the first casualties during the Bop era of Jazz, Cecil Young’s meteorite rise and brief prominence on the regional Jazz scene left many scratching their heads. You can never really explain why some things click and some things don’t. Cecil Young had all the earmarks of someone who would be a household name in a short time. Problem was, it just didn’t happen. Such is the fickle nature of music – no matter what genre you’re talking about.
But that should be no deterrent to digging the hell out of this concert, as it was recorded on March 11, 1951.
Buckle up and relax for the next 2 hours.