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  •  BAND: THE RAYMOND SCOTT ORCHESTRETTE

    The Raymond Scott Orchestrette
    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
    Offoffoff.com

    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.

      
    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.
    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 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).

    Drummer Clem Waldmann in The Raymond Scott Orchestrette  
    Drummer Clem Waldmann
      
    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.

    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
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK


    Reader comments on The Raymond Scott Orchestrette:

  • Montreal International Jazz Festival   from Maurice Rousseau, Jul 1, 2003
  • I loove raymond scott   from Stephanie, Mar 18, 2005

  • Post a comment on "The Raymond Scott Orchestrette"