Thursday, May 26, 2016

Miles Davis & Raymond Scott

Miles Davis was born on this date in 1926. Although there's no indication that Davis met Raymond Scott, it appears he may have been a fan. About 4 years-ago, I found a Miles Davis 'Blindfold Test' from 1968 — listening to Sun Ra (a tune titled "Brainville"), Davis said: "That's gotta come from Europe. We wouldn't play no shit like that. It's so sad. It sounds funny to me. Sounds like a 1935 arrangement by Raymond Scott. You mean there's somebody around here that feels like that? Even the white people don't feel that sad."
I've discovered another Davis 'Blindfold Test,' this one from 10 years earlier, in which he also mentions Raymond Scott. Here is a brief audio clip I excerpted from the complete 35-minute recording (and I transcribed it because Davis can be difficult to understand):
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
1958 “Blindfold Test” (excerpt)
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
MILES DAVIS: Well, now it’s sickening because everybody plays the cliches that they played 5 years ago.
LEONARD FEATHER: Hmm, or 10 years ago.
MD: And them ‘modren’ (sic) musicians. I really can’t stand to hear too many of those guys now — very few.
LF: What do you think about the West Coast guys?
MD: They can have that. They got all of that… on the West Coast.
LF: Do you think it lacks emotion?
MD: Yes, I think it’s the heat out there. (both laugh) And the movies. I really don’t understand that. You know, I like [jazz drummer and bandleader] Chico [Hamilton], he’s a good friend of mine, ya know, but his band makes me sick!
LF: Well, a lot of it is not Jazz.
MD: I don’t know what it is. I’d rather listen to Raymond Scott’s old quintet.
LF: (laughs)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Anthropophagy Feast

On this date in 1937, Raymond Scott returned to CBS studios with his Quintette for their third session to record "Dinner Music For A Pack Of Hungry Cannibals." It was an immediate hit when it was released 79 years ago, and is immortalized in "Which Is Witch" along with at least 16 other classic LOONEY TUNES. Download the vintage Columbia recording from the iTunes store, or Amazon, and check-out this cover by Kronos Quartet, plus a live performance by Ego Plum. Below is a private rehearsal by the original Quintette, released on the 2-CD "MICROPHONE MUSICcollection from the Basta label:

Monday, May 02, 2016

New Review of Documentary Film: Podcast

New 10-minute podcast segment, reviewing the feature-length documentary film about Raymond Scott's life and work:

"Spotlight on Film: Deconstructing Dad, excerpt of Powerhouse by The Raymond Scott Quintet... Thanks also to Chainsaw Chuck Majewski for the long ago tip to Raymond Scott’s web site."

Begins at 6:45  >>> Click to listen: here

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Deluxe Figurine & CD Set

Deluxe Vinyl Figurine & CD Set

We have small quantities of the much-celebrated and beautifully-designed deluxe vinyl figurine and CD set made by Presspop in Japan for only $39. (+ shipping). They are brand-new. The limited-edition package features a miniature replica of Raymond Scott's patented 1950s keyboard synthesizer, The Clavivox, and a CD featuring rare, unreleased tracks from the Scott Archives, produced and compiled by Jeff Winner (me).

 • To order Vinyl Figurine & CD set with PayPal CLICK HERE <

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Concert: West Point Band’s Quintet 7

ABOVE: The West Point Band's Quintette 7

Raymond Scott Quintette drummer Johnny Williams once remarked about his boss's penchant for exhaustive rehearsals: "All that discipline helped. It had to. I developed a technique way beyond what I'd had." The West Point Band's Quintette 7 understands discipline, and it pays off in their performances of Scott's quirky tunes, which they'll offer in a FREE concert at the Chappaqua Library Theater on Sunday, May 7th, 2016. (The program will also feature the Q7 performing non-Scott selections such as "Misty" and "Big Noise from Winnetka.") RSVP via Facebook: here

Info from the Library:

Hear—and buy—tracks from the BEST-SELLING album "Quintette 7 Plays the Music of Raymond Scott":

Friday, December 11, 2015

Powerhouse Passacaglia

Geoffrey Burleson performs "Powerhouse Passacaglia," a "Fantasy-Homage on Raymond Scott's 'Powerhouse'," composed by Burleson, at the New West Electronic Arts & Music Organization Festival, at Brooklyn’s ShapeShifter Lab, December 7, 2015.

Here's the work performed by the No Exit New Music Ensemble, November 2013:

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Oui d'Accord: "Powerhouse" (in Super 8)

The Berlin-based trio Oui d'Accord present an original arrangement of Raymond Scott's "Powerhouse" for guitar, bass and accordion. Filmed in Super 8! Unless the guys wrote it down, no sheet music exists for this instrumental configuration. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Raymond Scott Songbook (complete video)

Back in March we featured Part 1 of our friend Takashi Okada's video showcasing THE RAYMOND SCOTT SONGBOOK, a 2-cd set which he produced in cooperation with the Scott estate. We promised Part 2 the following week. We subsequently misplaced our calendar, which only now turned up buried under a dog-eared stack of Scientific American magazines from the 1960s. (We have to get this office organized!)

We now offer Part 2 of Takashi's video, which you'll find was worth waiting for.

Includes cameo appearances by Jean-Jacques Perrey, the Mechanical Orchestra of França Xica, Hirofumi Tokutake, Dorothy Collins, Ego Plum, Beth Sorrentino, Optiganally Yours, Benoît Charest, Haruomi Hosono, and others. (Pictured above: the band Noahlewis' Mahlon Taits; below: vocalist Miharu Koshi)

Thursday, April 02, 2015

YALE University Documentary Film Screening

YALE University will screen the award-winning Raymond Scott documentary film, "DECONSTRUCTING DAD," on April 6th, 2015. Directed by Raymond Scott's son, STAN WARNOW, and co-produced by JEFF WINNER (me), the documentary features: JOHN WILLIAMS, multi-Academy Award®-winning movie soundtrack composer (JAWS, STAR WARS, HARRY POTTER), MARK MOTHERSBAUGH, Emmy Award®-winning movie & TV score writer, & co-founder of DEVO, DJ SPOOKY, aka PAUL D. MILLER, turntablist, producer, & author, and others. The screening, which is free and open to the public, begins at 4:30pm, and the director will attend for Q&A. The Yale Film Study Center address is 212 York Street, #106, on the Yale campus. Thank you to legendary Mac guru David Biedny, who teaches in the Design Department at the Yale School of Drama, and his fellow Yale professor David Budries, for making this screening happen.

Yale Film Study Center

Monday, March 09, 2015

Growing up with Raymond Scott

Raymond Scott fan Christine Lorraine writes:
I wanted to take a moment to express something — in the mid-1990s you gave me a Raymond Scott CD (Reckless Nights and Turkish Twilights) when my son and daughter were babies. Now they are grown up. Nicole plays sax, and Nicholas plays French horn, drums, cello, and anything else he touches. Nicholas (who also plays drums with my band) recently hopped in the car when I picked him up from work, opened the console, and immediately inserted the Raymond Scott CD into the player. He listened to his favorites since childhood: "Manhattan Minuet," "Tobacco Auctioneer," and "At an Arabian House Party." He can point out where the clarinet squeaks in "Powerhouse" and how the trombones are intentionally dissonant in "House Party." My daughter Nicole does the same thing with the same CD, and she said it has struck her since early childhood that music could ever sound like that.
This is a roundabout way of saying thanks for playing such an indirect yet profound influence on their musical development. Raymond Scott's music is such a treasured part of our lives. 
Nicholas (above) had been listening to Raymond Scott since age 3 and wanted to play drums. Being a musician mom, well, it was no holds barred.

Ages 8 and 10 (above) they performed together playing "Jingle Bells" in the school talent show. She doesn't play sax so much now, but fronts an all-original punk group and writes their lyrics. I wish there were a way to expose more young children to intricate music like Raymond Scott's. I did so experimentally, but what an amazing outcome. 

Friday, March 06, 2015

Raymond Scott Songbook (the Video)

Our friend and fellow Scott scholar Takashi Okada, of Tokyo, has produced a 3-1/2-minute video showcasing THE RAYMOND SCOTT SONGBOOK, which he produced in cooperation with the Scott estate.

This is part 1 of a 2-part series; part 2 next week.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Raymond Scott Goes to Middle School

Guest blogger, Deb Scott Studebaker, who is the older daughter of
Raymond Scott and his 2nd wife Dorothy Collins, writes the following:

Tess, Zack H. and fellow poets perform "The White Clothesline"
at The Willows Community School. Photo: Tessa Posnansky
Take 100 middle school students and a lesson on poetry and art that embraces light and shadow. Add careful observation, thoughtful discussion, and provide an environment where these students can sketch, paint, write and share. 

What do you get? A poem called “The White Clothesline,” performed before an audience, with intro music from Raymond Scott Rewired. This mix of words, images and music holds a special meaning for me because Raymond Scott was my father.

Much has been written about Raymond Scott as an unswerving taskmaster, working his musicians relentlessly in pursuit of a lofty standard of perfection. His method of teaching me to play the piano as a young childpracticing endless scaleswas anything but fun.

Aidan in "The White Clothesline."  Photo: Heidi Roberts
But my father also had a playful side, as well as a passion for combining and recombining sounds, styles, and genresThat was fun! It was fun for him, and for those who shared his vision. I must have inherited his fascination with combining art forms and modalities.

I’m the third of Raymond Scott’s four children; I am also a writer who teaches poetry at the Willows Community School in Los Angeles. On February 12, ten of my talented students performed a piece that embodied creative confluence—a process dear to my father’s heart. 

Confluence: a place where people or things come together. Confluence came to work with me over the past few weeks: Blending art with poetry. Connecting fragments written by 100 students into an ancient poetic form known as the “cento.” Weaving 6th and 7th graders’ voices and perspectives. Bringing ten of those students onstage to speak the truths hidden within a white towel, a pair of white ski pants, and a tiny white sweater. Finally, adding a musical introduction that was a mash-up in itself!

Schaedyn and Malaika perform. Photo: Tessa Posnansky
When I searched my music library for an intro cue, I wasn’t looking specifically for a Raymond Scott composition. In fact, I brought in three selections to play for my kids. But when I put on “Good Duquesne Air” (audio below)—one of my favorite tunes from the fascinating Raymond Scott Rewired project—we had an immediate groove going on. “That’s so cool!” “What is that?” “Who is that?”  I explained that it was my father’s music, reimagined by mixmaster Mark Vidler (of Go Home Productions). On Poetry Night, the vintage and modern elements of “Good Duquesne Air” gave the audience a mysterious feel for what was yet to come.

In a confluence, streams flow and merge together from various sources. Fusing art with poetry opened up wider vistas for our students. Distilling the writings of many young poets into a cento told a new story. 

And incorporating even a taste of my father's musical legacy into “The White Clothesline” reminded me that a creative confluence is a gift big enough to share.

Friday, February 20, 2015

February 20, 1937

Raymond Scott music travels at various velocities. It can be delivered on LPs that spin at 33-1/3 revolutions per minute. There are a handful of rare 45 rpm singles. His electronic music was captured on tape that rolled at 3-3/4, 7-1/2, or 15 inches per second. The rotational speed of a Basta compact disc of Scott's Soothing Sounds for Baby varies from 210 rpm (outer edge) to 480 (inner edge). But Scott's music first came to prominence on fragile platters that whirled at 78 rpm.

It is therefore fitting that 78 years ago today, Raymond Scott entered a New York studio with his legendary Quintette to record his first commercial sides. It was a productive day. While no one knows how long the February 20, 1937 session lasted, by the time Scott and his cohorts mopped their brows and went home, they had recorded two timeless classics — "Minuet in Jazz" and "Twilight in Turkey" — and two immortal works — "The Toy Trumpet" and "Powerhouse." Not only were these four recordings all approved for commercial release, they are inarguably the definitive versions of all four works.

How long did it take Brian Wilson to complete Smile? Is it done yet?

Al Brackman, an associate producer for the Master label, which signed the RSQ, told historian Michèle Wood: "Our studio at 1776 Broadway was basically just an office with a seven- or eight-foot ceiling. There was a long hall leading to it from the elevators. Opposite the office door, there was a men's room lined with tiles. Scott insisted on recording at night so he could put one mike in the hall and another in the men's room. With that and the other mikes in the office he achieved what they call 'echo' and gave the recordings a big auditorium sound."

We don't have any photos of that makeshift Broadway chamber, but we have lots of photos of the RSQ during radio gigs (see above—saxophonist Dave Harris was cropped out by the cameraman). 

The first RSQ release was "Twilight in Turkey," backed by "Minuet in Jazz." The disc sold out within a week. "It had nothing to compete with it," said Brackman. "If you liked Scott, you had to buy Scott."

Fans first bought "Powerhouse" on the Master label, which went bankrupt in late 1937. The track was reissued on Brunswick in 1938, and in 1939 on Columbia. Same recording each time.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Ghost Train Orchestra, Feb 28, Brooklyn

Our friend Brian Carpenter, leader of the fabulous Ghost Train Orchestra, whose Book of Rhapsodies CD contains several cleverly arranged works by Raymond Scott, writes:
Don't miss our last show with the Book of Rhapsodies band on Saturday February 28 before we head into the studio to record Book of Rhapsodies Volume II (all of which can be heard live at this show). We'll debut new arrangements of strange and beautiful chamber works penned by Raymond Scott, Alec Wilder, Charlie Shavers, and Reginald Foresythe, as well as a special treat — some pieces by a seemingly unknown bandleader/composer from the '30s and '40s recently discovered by Irwin Chusid. We can't wait to debut these pieces live (and tell you who it is.)
Saturday February 28
Jalopy Theater
315 Columbia Street
Red Hook, Brooklyn
8pm doors / 9pm show

Note: I won't reveal the name of the "unknown" bandleader/composer, but I didn't discover him. His work was discovered by our friend Takashi Okada of Tokyo, who passed the recordings along to me, and I sent them on to Brian certain that he would appreciate them. It was Brian's idea to arrange and perform them.

Here's GTO's recording of Scott's "New Year's Eve in a Haunted House."