Monday, June 30, 2008



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

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,'s Jeff Winner exclaimed: "I'm completely knocked-out—I thought I was hearing the original Quintette!"

Thursday, June 12, 2008


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.''

''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!''
>> More info: MIT Press
>> More info:
>> Order book/CD:
>> Order CD:

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).

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Ray Knew Diddley

Bo Diddley
Raymond Scott, born in 1908, never truly understood Rock & Roll. But he did know Bo — with whom he shared a mutual affinity for home-made musical instruments.

Ray met Bo Diddley (a/k/a Ellas McDaniel) when Scott was A&R Director for Everest Records. A surviving tape in the Scott archives from 1958 is a fascinating aural artifact of what may have been an audition; Scott twirls knobs and adjusts levels while Bo runs through several of what were, at the time, new Diddley tunes that have since become classics. Eventually Scott joins him on piano for an impromptu version of "Stormy Weather."

Bo Diddley died yesterday at age 79, during the 100th anniversary of Scott's birth. The world of music will miss them both.

In 2005, Neil Strauss wrote a
feature about Diddley for ROLLING STONE, and mentioned the encounter with Raymond Scott:

There is a bootleg tape floating around of Raymond Scott, an inventive musical genius in his own right from the swing era, auditioning Bo Diddley for Everest Records. To hear it is to understand the challenge that Diddley was up against: Scott wanted Diddley to play guitar normally. But that wasn't how Diddley played. His music was all jittery high-end rhythm -- from the tremolo-drenched guitar to the constant hailstorm of maracas. The music Diddley was playing didn't swing or boogie-woogie. It was all about the guitar -- played with fat, clumsy thumbs and tuned to an open E. It wasn't commercial. It was strange.

"I couldn't play like other people wanted me to," Diddley says, with some pride. "I played backwards. You can't change my stuff. I am me."