Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas, 1942


Summit, New Jersey, Christmas 1942: The "famous Raymond Scott Quintet, featuring Dorothy Collins," performs for a "Holiday Assembly" at the Masonic Hall. Article pasted in a scrapbook along with the original RSVP invitation and four photographs of the dance, in which one can barely discern a band in the distance. The dancers appear to be well-dressed, well-behaved teens; presumably this was a high school event, though no HS is identified. Two details worth noting: 1) The bottom paragraph references Scott's "Silent Music." This "unrecorded" work has long been part of Scott lore—a "composition" consisting of no notes, a silent performance in which the musicians go through the motions of playing without making any sounds. This was a decade before John Cage's legendary noteless work 4'33", which caused such a ruckus when it was introduced in concert by David Tudor in 1952. 2) The creepy photograph of Scott. Thanks to Dennis Kelly for the artifact.

Monday, December 08, 2008

He's A Doll!


After two years in development, Japanese artist toy company Presspop Gallery have released their Raymond Scott 100th Anniversary vinyl figurine & CD set.

The deluxe limited edition package features a miniature replica of Scott's Clavivox, his patented 1950s keyboard synthesizer, and a CD featuring rare, unreleased tracks from the Scott Archives. Presspop have produced only a small batch of these unique high-quality sets, so order now (Presspop's Bob Moog figurine sold out quickly). RaymondScott.com is the exclusive US retailer. In-stock & shipping now.

>>> Order: here

Vinyl figure height: 6" Vinyl Clavivox height: 3"
Figure wears jacket of fabric
CD: 5 tracks (2 Previously Unreleased)
Designed by: ARCHER PREWITT
Project Advisor & CD producer/compiler: JEFF WINNER

P.S. Celebration on the Planet Boing.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Ego Trip

Los Angeles based soundtrack musician Ego Plum, who scores the Nickelodeon cartoon series MAKING FIENDS, has slipped a Raymond Scott tribute into an episode.  It's a fake commercial for onions based on Scott's real 1960s commercial for Lightworks brand cosmetics, featuring series creator Amy Winfrey on vocals.  > > > View it: here

Thursday, November 27, 2008

more from Montreal


Scott casual, ca. mid-1950s, location unknown
Adam O'Callaghan, who masterminded the March 2008 multi-disclipinary Scott tribute concert at Concordia University, has posted some footage on YouTube of his sextet at the Montreal Jazz Fest. You'll find their July 5 performances of "Powerhouse" and "Twilight in Turkey." Just added: Christina Gentile and Sarah Albu perform "Mountain High, Valley Low," from the Scott September birthday bacchanal. And: Ensemble du Carré Saint-Louis (featuring Adam's dad on flute) in concert with Shen Qi on July 8, 2008 in Dorion Quebec performing a chamber-like rendition of "Powerhouse."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

RacalmutoFilms


The Madrid-based Racalmuto sextet has been performing and recording finely crafted renditions of Raymond Scott tunes for the past few years. Their new project, RacalmutoFilms, presents an hour and a quarter of music and cinema, with animation, short subjects, and fragments of legendary silents such as Buster Keaton's Steamboat Bill Jr. and Yakov Protazanov's Aelita (the first Russian science fiction film). Over these images Racalmuto performs works by the Raymond Scott Quintette, the John Kirby Sextet, and originals. A five-minute trailer (in Spanish with English subtitles) has been posted at Vimeo. It includes excerpts of Racalmuto's takes on Scott's "Snake Woman" and "The Penguin."

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

This Time With Strings


In 1957, Scott was in the final season of swinging a baton on TV's long-running Your Hit Parade. That year, he recorded an LP entitled THIS TIME WITH STRINGS in which he musically re-invented eleven older compositions for full orchestra and velvety violins. The album has just been released on CD as part of Basta's Essential Reissue Series. Many of these tunes were originally recorded by Scott's novelty jazz six-man Quintette in the late 1930s; others date from the 1940s and '50s. All get a lush makeover on THIS TIME WITH STRINGS, including RSQ favorites "Powerhouse," "The Toy Trumpet," and "Twilight in Turkey," retooled for expanded setting. "There are many of the old Quintette things in this LP," said the composer in the original liner notes. "Also some older things for dance band, material written for Broadway and the screen, and some of my more recent writing. Indeed, a potpourri given Hi-Fidelity dressing, and a certain vividness in string treatment." The album was recorded in glorious monophonic sound, which is retained on CD. So is the cheesecake cover (above). TTWS is available as an import from Forced Exposure, and individual tracks can be downloaded at the iTunes Store. It will be released in the U.S. in early 2009.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Kicks or Treats?
MONKS OF DOOM!

One of my favorite bands of all-time, MONKS OF DOOM, was a weird, hybrid, progressive/metallish group derived from an equally weird band called CAMPER VAN BEETHOVEN. The first Monks album dates from 1986, but check out this live reunion video from 2005 at The Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles, with evidence of a medley/jam riffing on a Raymond Scott classic, "Powerhouse" — download the video: here


P.S. The Monks were including this cover in their live sets years before Irwin or I knew who Scott was.

Monday, October 27, 2008

"Are they singing too?"


Scott composed "Desire" — a "descriptive fantasy for orchestra" — to accompany a dance routine by Lilly Christine in legendary producer Michael Todd's lascivious Broadway production Peep Show. The staging opened at New York's Winter Garden Theatre on June 28, 1950 and closed February 24, 1951 after 278 performances. "In the days when a burlesque show only cost the customer 40 cents," mused reviewer Inez Robb's droll husband after accompanying his wife to a performance, "such a display would have been vulgar, lewd and nihil ad rem. But today, when Mr. Todd collects $7.20 for each and every orchestra seat, it is art and let that be a lesson to you." The Scott brain trust (six or seven of us) have yet to discover a recording of this work. If you have one, join the trust. Thanks to Takashi Okada for the scan.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Scott comes to London


As a bandleader, Raymond Scott demanded perfection from his sidemen. His standards were so lofty he once said he wouldn't hire himself to play in his own bands. In his pursuit of musical perfection, he eventually did away with human players, and built electronic devices to generate music. With Stu Brown's Raymond Scott Project, talented musicians are restoring the human touch to Scott's music, and doing it with elán. The composer would be impressed. He might have hired these guys. Brown brings his RSP to London's elegant new Kings Place cultural centre on October 14. The program, Cartoons and Weirdness, presents a combined performance by Brown's sextet and experimental London duo Falco Subbuteo, exploring new interpretations of Scott's electronic and acoustic work. The evening includes excerpts from Stan Warnow's documentary-in-progress, some cartoon-related short films, DJ sets featuring Scott's electronica and derivative works that sample Scott.

Monday, October 06, 2008

another centennial


The beautiful and talented (and tragic) Carole Lombard was born a century ago today. That makes her less than a month younger than Raymond Scott, with whom she also shares a film: Nothing Sacred (1937). Scott and his Q compatriots headed west under contract to 20th Century Fox in late '37, less than a year after making their sensational Christmas 1936 CBS radio debut. Their first film assignment was a medley of familiar (non-Scott) tunes arranged in the idiosyncratic RSQ style, intended to accompany a cinematic fashion show. The Quintette is heard, but not seen, in the sequence, which occurs early in the film. The medley has never been commercially released, but if you see the film, you'll recognize the RSQ's unmistakable verve. Scott and his band spent less than a year in filmdom. The residency was both productive and frustrating. During this time Scott expanded his sextet into a small orchestra and recorded scores of demos (which survive, and are being prepared for CD release). At the same time, he deplored the vacuousness of the motion picture industry. Explaining why he left in 1938 and returned to New York, Scott said he hated Hollywood "because they think everything is 'wonderful'."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ebola Music Radio Special


At EgoPlum.com: ''NOW PLAYING! A very special edition of the Ebola Music Radio show celebrating 100 years of Mad Genius composer/inventor Raymond Scott. The show includes super-rare tracks, amazing covers, and an interview with RaymondScott.com founder and CD producer Jeff E. Winner.'' Radio host Ego Plum is the composer of the musical score for Nickelodeon's newest animated TV series, the strange and hilariously bleak, "MAKING FIENDS." >>> Listen to the radio special: here.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Let 'em hear cake!


Above: Clavivox cake by Sarah Albu, Montreal Below: Bakery birthday cake ordered by Ego Plum, Los Angeles

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The First 100 Years


Today marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Raymond Scott. To commemorate the centennial, we commissioned a portrait of our revered musical control freak by renowned caricaturist (and Scott fan) Drew Friedman. The image depicts a beaming RS at the controls in a spaghetti-tangle of mic cords while his legendary 1937-39 Quintette runs through the ninety-sixth take of "Screwball Music for a Pack of Weary Sidemen." You can buy a signed, limited edition fine art print of the painting at RaymondScott.com. We're offering 30 numbered & titled giclée prints signed by the artist in a large (16" x 15") wall display format. The launch price is $300 for each of the first ten prints, after which the price will increase as the edition sells out. Strange as it may seem considering the popularity and stature of Mr. Friedman's imagery, this is the first time his work is being offered in a signed limited edition.
P.S.: The tightest comprehensive bio of Scott ever — 650 words — posted at BoingBoing.com. P.P.S.: Scott concert Sunday afternoon, Sept. 14 at West Point.

Directory Assistance


Today marks the Raymond Scott centennial. Our guy was born Harry Warnow on Sept. 10, 1908, in Brooklyn. We celebrate and pay tribute—but twenty years ago, such an anniversary observance was unlikely.

I've been a free-form DJ at WFMU radio since 1975. We're allowed to spin anything, without regard to genre. In the mid-1980s, I began airing a mix cassette of 78 rpm disc transfers of the Raymond Scott Quintette. The group's idiosyncratic titles (e.g., "War Dance for Wooden Indians," "New Year's Eve in a Haunted House," "Dinner Music for a Pack of Hungry Cannibals") were composed by the band's namesake leader. I didn't know anything about Mr. Scott, but soon discovered he was an intriguing figure of once-gargantuan stature whose name had slipped into the dustbin of music history, his accomplishments forgotten or unrecognized, a prime "Where Are They Now?" candidate. Only later did I learn that Scott, besides composing nutty titles, was a quasi-jazz pianist, orchestra leader, pioneering audio engineer, inventor of electronic music machines, and all-around eccentric control freak.

The cassette was compiled around 1985 by a friend in L.A., artist Byron Werner. Byron is a vinyl obsessive who coined the phrase "Space Age Bachelor Pad Music" to describe a broad genre of pleasant, sophisticated instrumental pop of the 1950s and '60s (e.g., Esquivel, Martin Denny, The Three Suns). By the 1980s, these relics were long out of vogue and reviled by hipsters. It was music for geeks. Like me. Raymond Scott was not part of this genre. He was something else. When Werner gave me the cassette, he explained, "You might recognize this music from Bugs Bunny cartoons." Though I had never heard these recordings and recognized neither the titles nor the composer, there was something curiously familiar about the music. It sounded like quintessential cartoon soundtrack fodder of the 1930s: frantic, wacky, edgy, and …. well, animated, with a layer of surface noise and compressed fidelity that affirmed its vintage.

I began airing tracks from the tape—and invariably the phones lit up, especially when I played a wild recording called "Powerhouse." Listeners wanted to know the title because they'd heard it before but didn't know where. I said it was from cartoons, which usually elicited the reply, "Where can I get it?" Since the recording was out of print, I dubbed copies of the cassette for dozens of listeners, friends, and fellow staffers. I attempted some research — pre-www: in libraries — about this Scott character but turned up little. He was an occasional footnote in jazz chronicles, and what few encyclopedic thumbnails I discovered mentioned nothing about cartoons.

In 1988 Steve Schneider published That's All Folks!—the first major monograph about classic Warner animation. The book included a full page about WB music director Carl Stalling's penchant for the "merry melodies" of Scott, who was, it turned out, in no way connected with cartoons. He didn't even watch them. Stalling, through a publisher's license, had adapted a dozen Scott titles in hundreds of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck cartoons in the 1940s and '50s. Scott's music thus became genetically encoded in every young earthling—few of whom knew the source.

My passion for Scott's music, fueled by the injustice that such a major figure could or should be overlooked, eventually led me to Scott himself. Once again Byron Werner was the conduit. He found Scott in, of all places, the Los Angeles telephone directory, living in Van Nuys. He called and talked to Scott's wife Mitzi, who explained that Raymond, his speech impaired by a 1987 stroke, could not carry on a conversation. She explained that Scott could no longer work and that their finances were desperate.

Werner passed along Scott's number, and after making initial contact with Mitzi in January 1991, I agreed to officially represent her husband's music and revive his deserving legacy. Ironically, this was the second catalytic instance of Scott's name being plucked out of a phonebook. Around 1934, Harry Warnow sought a musical nom-de-plume to differentiate himself from his then-famous older brother, orchestra conductor Mark Warnow. Harry told interviewers he selected the name "Raymond Scott" out of the Manhattan phone directory. He thought the moniker had "good rhythm."

Harry, Raymond, Mr. Scott—whatever. Happy one hundredth birthday. Let's get going on the next hundred years.

Happy 100th Birthday: 1908-2008

Jeff Winner, who co-produced Manhattan Research, Inc., offers his 100th birthday toast: 

Much of my understanding of the 20th century came from Raymond Scott. Over the past 15 years I've studied his fascinating career and life in great detail; this gave me a greater awareness of the achievements of the past 100 years. The 1900s saw dramatic leaps of human advancement and technological invention. Scott was inspired by the optimistic spirit of this progress, and became a major player in both artistic and technical ways.

On September 9, 1908, Orville Wright made the first experimental flight to catch air for an hour. The following day, coincidentally, Raymond Scott was born. Scott's musical journey started as a kid with a player piano in his dad's music shop. In 1949 Scott wrote music that foresaw "the first experimental rocket express to the moon." Twenty years later, NASA did it. While aviators went from Kitty Hawk to the moon, Scott went from a player piano to synthesizers, sequencers, and homemade drum machines. They were both striving for a celebration on the planet Mars.

Happy birthday, Raymond, and thank you for the history lessons. I'm certain Earthlings will love your work even more in another 100 years. Especially if they're listening during a commute to the moon.

Monday, September 01, 2008

The perils of gluttony


Sweet Wishes, a short film by Mark Ryden and Marion Peck. Donuts and cheesecake in the prop budget. Mops, too. Soundtrack: "And the Dish Ran Away with the Spoon," by RS + The Secret 7, chipmunked vocals by Dorothy Collins.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Current Buzz


Stu Brown's Raymond Scott Project has launched a website. The group's mission is to introduce the original RSQ repertoire to a new generation of Euro audiences. Stu (at drumkit, left) recently began adding RS electronica into the mix, but his program largely offers an updating of early Scott Quintette tunes. He is also prospecting for an album deal. The plunderphonically mischievous Bran Flakes have been given free reign to scavenge the Scott catalog and mash up a centennial remix album for 2009 release. More on this as-yet untitled project as it develops. The U.S. Military Academy Band at West Point will present an all-Scott recital on September 14. Admission is FREE. I'll be on hand to offer an introductory talk about RS and screen the trailer for Stan Warnow's work-in-progress documentary about his father, the composer. The student band at the Manhattan School of Music will perform "Powerhouse" on October 14. "Powerhouse" also makes two cameos in the soundtrack of a new film, RockNRolla, directed by Guy Ritchie, slated for Oct. 8 release. View trailer here. (Spoiler alert: "Powerhouse" ain't in it.)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

But were the musicians smiling?


Nice shot of RS in conductor mode, probably counting down "take 214-a" while band members glance at the clock, mutter imprecations, and wonder if they'll make last call. Likely vintage: 1950. Apparently snapped when RS was at the musical helm of Your Hit Parade, which jumped from CBS radio to NBC-TV that year. Clue: haircut (similar to photos of RS leading his 1948-49 quintet; he later sported a crew cut on YHP); suspenders and elegant tie, both of which seem late-1940s/1950 vogue. HT: Stan Warnow for the scan.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Raymond Scott: The Musical


ACT 1, SCENE 1 A basement in Brooklyn. Saturday. GRANDFATHER: Who in the basement makes such noise? YOUNG BOY: Methinks should I, ere this box opn'd T'would suffer most grievous shellacking Yet respond I must and feign surprise Ho, Grandfather, 'tis I that ventured To this most subterranean homesick place. GRANDFATHER: Ay, t'were foretold one day the boy would come To find the discs that music play'd To rent the air with kitt'nish pseudo-jazz and end these years of peace My heart darken'd. O lost! YOUNG BOY: Yet who hailed as king 'mid these ancient tunes? GRANDFATHER: Dare speak I not, nor say the name 'Tis now struck twelve; get thee to bed, lad. YOUNG BOY: For this relief, much thanks: 'tis bitter cold, And I am sick at heart. GRANDFATHER Fear not the turgid trembl'ng within thy bowels 'Tis but Grandma's chili racing for the exit. They both laugh. The doorbell rings. Grandfather opens the door Enter two friends of Grandfather -- Marcel and Fellatio YOUNG BOY: What, is Fellatio there? GRANDFATHER: Welcome, Fellatio: welcome, good Marcel. MARCEL: What, has this thing dost appear'd again to-night? GRANDFATHER: I have witness'd naught. MARCEL: Fellatio says 'tis but our fantasy, And will not let belief take hold of him Of this dread music, twice heard of us: Therefore I have entreated him along With us to listen the minutes of this night; As new year's eve in a haunt'd house That if again this apparition cometh, He may approve our eyes and speak to it. FELLATIO: Tush, tush, 'twill not appear. GRANDFATHER: Sit down awhile; And let us once again assail your ears, As the kittenish pseudo-jazz doth assail ours That are fortified against our story What we have two nights heard. FELLATIO: Well, sit we down, And let us hear Grandfather speak of this. GRANDFATHER: Last night of all, When yond same star that's westward from the pole Had made his course to illume that part of heaven Where now it burns, Marcel and myself, The bell then beating one,-- Enter Ghost of Raymond Scott MARCEL: Peace, break thee off; look, where it comes again! GRANDFATHER: In the same figure, good radio's hit parade. MARCEL: Thou art a scholar; speak to it, Fellatio. GRANDFATHER: Looks it not like the bandleader? Mark it, Fellatio. FELLATIO: Most like: it harrows me with fear and wonder. GRANDFATHER: It would be spoke to. MARCEL: Question it, Fellatio. FELLATIO: What art thou that usurp'st this time of night, Together with that fair and warlike form In which the majesty of Shirley Temple Did sometimes march? By heaven I charge thee, speak! MARCEL: 'Tis offend'd. GRANDFATHER: See, he stalks away! FELLATIO: Stay! speak, speak! I charge thee, speak! Exit Ghost MARCEL: 'Tis gone, and will not answer. GRANDFATHER: How now, Fellatio! You tremble and look pale: Is not this something more than fantasy? What think you on't? FELLATIO: Before my God, I might not this believe Without the sensible and true avouch Of mine own eyes. MARCEL: Nor would I aver The entire quintette, should they arise. FELLATIO: As thou art to thyself: Such was the very tux he had on When he the ambitious cartoon scor'd; So frown'd he once, when, in an angry parle, He smote the grievous saxophone man. 'Tis strange. MARCEL: Thus twice before, and jump at this dead hour, Thus pow'rhous'd hath he gone by our watch. FELLATIO: In what particular thought to work I know not; But in the gross and scope of my opinion, bodes bumpy weather o'er the new ark. MARCEL: Good now, sit down, and tell me, he that knows, Why this same strict and most confusing watch So nightly toils the subject of the land, Among a fleet of brazen cabs, And soothing sounds, the playful drummer; Why such impress of stalling made, whose sore task To score the moods of stutt'ring pigs and insane poultry? What might be toward, that this sweaty haste Doth make the reckless night with the day: Who is't can inform me? FELLATIO: That can I; At least, the whisper goes so. [to be continued ...] by Don Brockway

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Ducks, Bugs, Penguins, and Wooden Indians


Stu adds: "I don't remember Donald Duck being a Warner Bros. character." Little known fact: Donald auditioned for Looney Tunes, but was deemed too unstable for the role. He later caught on as a bit player for Disney and parlayed early waddle-ons into a respectable second-tier career. He had a lifelong predilection for bitchy dames and bad cars. Until his 1983 death from cirrhosis of the liver, Donald remained bitter and resentful at the star treatment accorded Mickey.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Stu Brown's Raymond Scott Project


Stu Brown's Raymond Scott Project is on the bill at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival Thursday evening (31 JULY), at the Jazz Centre, Grassmarket. Besides the classic Scott Quintette repertoire, Stu promises some new material, including his arrangement of "The Toy Typewriter" (from Soothing Sounds for Baby), performed with toy typewriter and digital effects unit. The work also features elements from the "Ripples" work tape (from Manhattan Research Inc.). Stu will also appear on Radio Scotland's Radio Cafe to talk about the RS project on Tuesday 29 JULY. You can listen online.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Scott wrote ...

Here's an index of Scott compositions in the online ASCAP database. This is not a complete list of titles. The eminently hummable "IBM MT/ST: The Paperwork Explosion" is omitted, but the unforgettable, hook-filled "Look for the Hotpoint Difference"—go ahead, whistle that melody!—is included. Go figger. The database includes publisher info and a half-hearted survey of recording artists for each title. "Half-hearted"? We've collected recordings of 59 different artists covering "Powerhouse." The ASCAP database lists nine—and these include "Bass S," "Byron D," "Don Byron," "Sid Bass," "Raymond Scott," "Scott,"and "Scott R." It's an imperfect system. They are working on the problem. Please stay on the line. Your call is very important to us.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sleepytime

Fascination72 On March 12, a compulsively dedicated and immensely talented Raymond Scott devotee named Adam O'Callaghan directed and performed in a monumental cross-genre Scott centenary concert at Concordia University, Montreal. O'Callaghan recruited 50 or so acoustic and electronic musicians — students and professionals — in various ensemble settings.

The program offered repertoire from Scott's 1937-39 cartoon-jazz and 1948-49 chamber-jazz Quintets; orchestral works; the composer's elegant but rarely heard 1950 Suite for Violin & Piano; tunes from the idiosyncratic 1960 Secret Seven album; and pioneering proto-electronica from Manhattan Research Inc. and Soothing Sounds for Baby. The proceedings included re-enactments of Scott's 1950s electronic TV commercials and a rhapsodic replica of a Space Age Scott invention, The Fascination Machine. The concert was a mind-boggler, never likely to be duplicated. Dozens of performance videos from the concert are on YouTube. One performance (just posted) was particularly stunning and unexpected — a surprise collaborator accompanying the trio Unireverse on Scott's electronic lullaby, "Sleepytime" (from Soothing Sounds). The guest arrives onstage three minutes into the performance.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Mrs. Raymond Scott at 90


Mitzi Scott belongs to a generation among whom it is considered improper to give a woman's age. However, we've been advised by her family that she won't mind us revealing that she turns 90 today. What we won't divulge is her birth name. Just call her "Mitzi." Mitzi and Raymond met in July 1966—he was recently divorced from his second wife, Dorothy Collins—and they were married six months later. That Raymond was an idiosyncratic man obsessed with music and technology was a fact of their marriage. They lived together at Three Willow Park, a Long Island industrial development which Raymond was comfortable calling home. "He would come into the living quarters for lunch, and I would put his lunch on the table and go back to the kitchen to get my lunch," Mitzi recalled. "By the time I returned to the table, he was gone. He was back in the lab. "If he awoke at four in the morning and had a great idea, he would get up. Then he might work until 7:00 or 8:00 or 9:00 in the morning, and then go back to bed. One night I woke up—it was around three or four in the morning--and he was hanging over the side of the bed reading some notes, with the lamp on the floor so he wouldn’t wake me up." Not content merely having Mitzi prepare lunch, Raymond recruited her for projects. "Even before we got married, he had me wiring," she laughed. "He taught me soldering, and to attach the red wire to the blue wire, and the yellow wire to the green wire. I didn’t like doing it—but I got pretty good at it." Of course living with Scott meant music was part of the package—although it might not be Mozart or Chopin. "We would be having lunch, with the Electronium on in the next room," she recalled. "He would just leave it on—it was a self-working machine. It composed and performed at the same time. Sometimes it would play something lovely, and I would say, 'Oh my, isn’t that a pretty phrase!' And it would repeat it as though it had heard me and said, 'Well, if you like it that much, I’ll play it again!' It was so out of this world." When Raymond was hired by Berry Gordy to work for Motown in 1972, Mitzi oversaw the move to Los Angeles. They settled in Van Nuys, remaining in the same home on Valerio Street until Raymond's death in 1994. Two years later she sold the house and moved to Santa Clarita. Besides living with and taking care of an eccentric musical genius, over the years Mitzi also took in dozens of stray dogs and cats, many rescued from local shelters. Mitzi was a dancer in the 1940s. Here's a publicity photo from back in the day. She still dances—not professionally, but with a group of spry senior gals. Thanks to Bianca Bob for 1993 living room photo above.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Sleepwalker

In 1991 I was passing around cassettes of Raymond Scott 78 rpm transfers, trying to get anyone who would listen interested in the man's music. At the time, Scott was just another entrant in the "Where Are They Now?" sweepstakes. His recordings were out of print; he was obscure, a music history footnote.
Journalist/historian Will Friedwald got the message and collaborated with me on the first CD release of Scott recordings, The Man Who Made Cartoons Swing—Powerhouse: Volume 1 (Stash Records). A few months later, I received an unsolicited call from a character named Wayne Barker. After gushing eloquently about his discovery of Scott's music via the CD, Barker put the phone down and played a note-perfect rendition of Scott's "The Sleepwalker." He had learned the tune by ear from the CD—he had no sheet music to work with. Wayne and I became great pals. In 1999 he helped establish the Raymond Scott Orchestrette, an adventurous repertory septet devoted to re-inventing Scott's compositions. Barker served as the group's co-director, co-arranger and pianist. In 2007, classical pianist Jenny Lin approached me about hiring an arranger for her projected recording of"Sleepwalker." There was one obvious choice. Lin's recording of Barker's new arrangement is now available on a just-released CD, InsomniMania. The album's program consists of works with a nocturnal mood: dreams and nightmares; sleeplessness; lullabies. Her press kit observes that "some of the works on this recording were even written during that illusive phase somewhere between consciousness and sleep, which some claim to be an extremely creative period." Scott's is the earliest work in the program. A CD release recital is scheduled for July 10 at Le Poisson Rouge on Bleecker Street.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Videos from the Concordia RS gala

Here's a slew of video clips from Adam O'Callaghan's March 2008 Raymond Scott centenary concert in Montreal. Titles performed include "Dinner Music for a Pack of Hungry Cannibals," the rare "Tenor Man's Headache," "Square Dance for Eight Egyptian Mummies," the electronic "Lullabye" from Soothing Sounds for Baby, "Twilight in Turkey," "War Dance for Wooden Indians" (which includes a fabulous tap dance sequence), and a few Secret Seven numbers. A spinoff of the concert, the Concordia Raymond Scott Quintette, performs at the Montreal Jazz Festival on Saturday, July 5. Update (21 JULY): Here's a gazillion photos from the CRSQ @ Jazzfest.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Lies!



ALL LIES!!

Status: The third memo, which said that the second memo — the one that said to disregard the first memo — was erroneous and should be disregarded, reinstates the first memo and all executive and administrative directives therein, pending further memos. Conflicting bureaucratic logistics -- we haz dem!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Byron brings the bugs


"A Bug's Second Life: Clarinetist Don Byron Revisits Infectious Golden Era Swing Tunes," by Derk Richardson, appeared in the San Francisco Music Examiner, June 1. Byron recorded six Raymond Scott Quintette classics on his 1996 Nonesuch CD Bug Music, and 12 years later these tunes remain in his concert repertoire.

This excellent January '97 review in Stereophile named Bug Music "Recording of the Month." You can hear samples of Byron's takes on "Powerhouse" and "The Penguin" here. For a special treat, play both samples simultaneously and create your own Raymond Scott mashup!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Beam Me Up, Mr. Scott


The latest Photoshopped image from EsoTek (a/k/a Scott Skerchock), who has a long history of creating Raymond Scott remixes of a visual & audio nature:


>>Esotek's RS Gallery
>>ThePlasticSound.com

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Electronium's diluted gene pool


In the 1960s and '70s, Raymond Scott developed an instantaneous composition-performance machine called The Electronium. It was Beethoven-in-a-Box, designed to compose via artificial intelligence and play new music in real-time. Berry Gordy placed an order for one, and Scott continued to modify it for the Motown mogul throughout the 1970s. The device was never effectively completed, and eventually the inventor cannibalized it for spare parts.

Who knew the thing had punk grandbrats?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Back to Scott-Land


Stu Brown's Raymond Scott Project, previously noted when they performed in Edinburgh last February, are taking the stage again, this time in Glasgow. On Saturday, June 21, the band will launch their controlled mayhem in a venue billed as "Scotland's Last Surviving Music Hall"—the Britannia Panopticon, which opened in 1859 (too recent to have an 18th century drawing room).

The evening includes a screening of footage from Raymond Scott: On To Something, a work-in-progress documentary by Scott's son, filmmaker Stan Warnow.

After hearing rehearsal takes of the band, RaymondScott.com's Jeff Winner exclaimed: "I'm completely knocked-out—I thought I was hearing the original Quintette!"

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sound/Unbound

Paul D. Miller, a.k.a. DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid, has compiled a new book & CD set titled SOUND UNBOUND: Sampling Digital Music and Culture, published by MIT Press. Included in the text is a chapter, written by me (Jeff Winner), exploring Raymond Scott's pioneering electronic instruments & music, an introduction from Steve Reich, forward by Cory Doctorow, plus contributions from Chuck D of Public Enemy, Moby, Scanner (aka Robin Rimbaud), Pierre Boulez, Brian Eno, Douglas Kahn, & others.

On the accompanying CD (also
available separately), Spooky weaves three tracks from the Raymond Scott Manhattan Reseach Inc. collection into his mega-mix along with Sonic Youth, John Cage, Phillip Glass, Aphex Twin, Einsturzende Neubauten, Iannis Xenakis, Terry Riley, Sun Ra, Marcel Duchamp, Morton Subotnick, William S. Buroughs, & Iggy Pop.
''A nice antidote to the usual way music history is often categorized. From RAYMOND SCOTT to the hidden racism in digital circuitry to a history of easy listening, there is enough inspiring weirdness here to fuel some musical fires for a good while.''
—DAVID BYRNE

''A marvelous collection! The essays criss-cross over many aspects of sound -- cosmic, chemical, political, economic. Plus you get to meet fascinating characters like Alex Steinweiss and synthesizer pioneer RAYMOND SCOTT. I love this book!''
—LAURIE ANDERSON
>> More info: MIT Press
>> More info: SoundUnbound.com
>> Order book/CD: Amazon.com
>> Order CD: Amazon.com

Sunday, June 08, 2008

A "Powerhouse" delivery?


How often is Raymond Scott referenced in the sports section? There's always a first time. Aaron Schafer, St. Louis Riverfront Times, Cards vs. Nats recap, June 6:

It was still a great game, you know. Joe Mather collected the first of what I think will be many major league home runs, and Mark Worrell collected the first of what I think will be very, very few. By the way, speaking of Worrell, does anyone else hear Raymond Scott's "Powerhouse" in their head as Worrell whirls into that Rube Goldberg delivery of his? Personally, I have no idea how one even begins to go about throwing a ball the way he does, but it sure is fun to watch.

HT: Jeff Winner

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Concordia Raymond Scott Quintette


The Concordia Raymond Scott Quintette was formed in late '07 for a cross-genre Scott Centennial Tribute Concert at Concordia University on March 12, 2008. Following the concert's success, the CRSQ decided to continue performing Scott's work during the centennial. The CRSQ recreates the repertoire of the Raymond Scott Quintette of the 30's and 40's with careful attention to authenticity. Their set features vintage instruments and costumes, and their repertoire includes both well-known Scott titles and a few obscurities. In fact, at the March event they debuted a sextet composition, "Tenor Man's Headache" (watch video), for which hand-written sheet music was discovered in the Scott archives. There is no indication that this work had ever been performed by any Scott band.

The CRSQ is booked for the 2008 Montreal Jazz Festival on the evening of Saturday, July 5. Pictured above: Adam O'Callaghan (leader, tenor sax); Laurent Menard (trumpet); Pierre-Andre Theriault (clarinet); Leah McKeil and Chris Tauchner (piano); Ryan Fleury (bass); and Zoli Filotas (drums).