Monday, July 21, 2008


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.

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