The Mills Brothers with Duke Ellington: Diga Diga Doo


Diga Diga Doo


The Mills Brothers with Duke Ellington


Four Boys And A Guitar (Legacy/Columbia)

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Herbert Mills (tenor vocals), Donald Mills (tenor vocals), Harry Mills (baritone vocals), John Mills, Jr. (bass vocals, guitar), Duke Ellington (piano), Barney Bigard (clarinet, tenor sax), Cootie Williams (trumpet), Johnny Hodges (soprano & alto saxes),

Fred Jenkins, Arthur Whetsol (trumpets), Lawrence Brown, Joe Nanton (trombone), Juan Tizol (valve trombone), Otto Hardwick (clarinet, alto & bass saxes), Harry Carney (clarinet, bass clarinet, baritone sax), Fred Guy (banjo, guitar), Wellman Braud (bass), Sony Greer (drums)


Composed by Dorothy Fields & Jimmy McHugh


Recorded: New York, December 22, 1932


Rating: 94/100 (learn more)

This song, written for the significant early black musical Lew Leslie's Blackbirds of 1928, is best characterized as the height of cool, early '30s style. With the notable Mills Brothers adding their fine harmonized vocals to the Ellington band's usual superb ensemble playing, it is a very interesting track. The Mills Brothers sing the lyrics, with the repeated "Diga diga doo" line, in wonderfully stylish and rhythmic manner, with dashes of scat. An underlying rhythmic bass percussive effect is provided vocally by basso John Mills, Jr., for much of the song. The music has a catchy, memorable theme, which the band plays in a rollicking, romping way with great rhythmic momentum; they also play some unison, punchy descending lines adding drama. These guys are obviously having big-time fun with this number! Cootie Williams plays most of the lead on trumpet with spirit and style, using a mute for the first choruses before opening his trumpet. Later, Johnny Hodges plays beautifully bouncing, wailing lead lines on soprano sax (reminiscent of his mentor Sidney Bechet) in answer to Cootie's trumpet work, with heavy ensemble backing. Fun stuff and fine music, indeed!

Reviewer: Dean Alger

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