|Photo by Shana Carter|
Eehhh, what's uptempo, doc?
Be vewy, vewy quiet it's the Raymond Scott Orchestrette, playing decompositions of your favorite Looney tunes.
By JOSHUA TANZER
The Raymond Scott Orchestrette is what you'd have left if Frank Zappa chased George Gershwin
off a cliff, at the bottom of which they were both squashed to bits by a falling anvil.
This tortured analogy might make sense when you know that
Raymond Scott (1908-1994) was the visionary composer of swing music so
grandly cinematic but diabolically mischievous that it became the soundtrack for many classic
Warner Brothers cartoons. (It's popped up anew as the theme for the Cartoon Network and in
"Ren and Stimpy" and "The Simpsons" too.)
|THE RAYMOND SCOTT ORCHESTRETTE|
|Wayne Barker (piano, arranger)|
Brian Dewan (piano, electric zither, accordion, electronics, arranger)
Michael Hashim (alto and soprano saxophone)
Will Holshouser (accordion, arranger)
George Rush (electric and upright bass)
Rob Thomas (violin)
Clem Waldmann (drums).
Related links: Official site | Raymond Scott site
| AUDIO |
|Oil Gusher (excerpt)|| RA|
| © Gateway Music. Used by permission.|
|Powerhouse (excerpt)|| RA|
|The Penguin (excerpt)|| RA|
|Twilight in Turkey (excerpt)|| RA|
| © Music Sales Corp.. Used by permission.|
The long-obscure music has enjoyed a renaissance
over the past decade, thanks to the rerelease of some of his recordings on the indispensable
CD "Reckless Nights and Turkish Twilights" (produced by obscure-musicologist Irwin Chusid,
who's also the co-host of the Incorrect Music Hour
on WFMU radio and author of the new book "Songs in the Key of Z")
and the tribute CD "Bug Music" by Don Byron.
The Raymond Scott Orchestrette was formed last year not just to recreate the composer's mad
genius but to yank it apart and put it together in a new form. For example, the Orchestrette's
reworking of "The Penguin" (hear
it here) starts with the title waterfowl's trademark waddle, but done in dueling jabs from
two accordionists, as if the score had shattered
into a thousand pieces and the pair picked notes at random off the floor. And the
group's update of Scott's masterpiece "Powerhouse"
(hear it here)
now sports the exotic addition of Brian Dewan's slide electric zither (played something like
a many-stringed steel guitar, except when Dewan plays it with a small electric fan).
The septet features talented veterans of such off-kilter gigs as They Might be Giants,
David Byrne, Loser's Lounge and Blue Man Group, as well as jazz pros who've played with Dizzy Gillespie, Cab Calloway and the Jazz Passengers.
|Drummer Clem Waldmann|| |
Everyone does a great job with this intricate and unpredictable music, but it's worth keeping
one ear on drummer Clem Waldmann. He peppers the songs with such a variety of thumps and crashes
that you can almost hear Bugs Bunny give Elmer Fudd a whack on the head and scurry down a rabbit
hole or face-first into a tree. After all, this music, like the best jazz and like
the cartoons it inspired, is all about the unexpected.
|JULY 26, 2000|
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