Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Quintet Redux

The first CD to kick off the Raymond Scott centennial is the spooky-titled Ectoplasm. This album spotlights Scott's second six-man "quintet," whose brief existence spanned less than a year (late 1948-mid-1949). Unlike the 1937-'39 RSQ, this sextet didn't create music destined for cartoons. But if you like cartoonish art, the package (released on Basta) boasts an adapted 1951 illustration by legendary LP cover artist Jim Flora.

The arrangements sound like classic Scott, without a nostalgic aping of the first RSQ. Call it "parlor jazz," or "chamber swing"—it's breezy and cerebral, laced with Scott's trademark wit and sophistication. Like the charter RSQ, the redux version is complex and hyperactive, with an undercurrent of wry mischief, befitting the band's namesake. There's swirling horns, muted trumpet, and daredevil tempos. As ever, Scott maintained his penchant for musical vignettes: besides the invocational title track, the album includes "Snake Woman," "Bird Life in the Bronx," "Curley Cue," and "Dedicatory Piece to the Crew and Passengers of the First Experimental Rocket Express to the Moon." Got a short attention span? Lucky you: the album has 34 tracks, many of which zoom by in less than two minutes. Also featured on several tracks: crooning, theremin-like wordless vocals by Dorothy Collins.

Audio samples can be heard at RaymondScott.com.

Update 26 FEB: Now available in the iTunes Music Store.

1 comment:

  1. I've been enjoying this one VERY much since Piet passed me a copy - and the unusually 3D-ish Jim Flora art is lovely too! It looks almost like he was studying Basil Wolverton at the time.