RAYMOND SCOTT — The Music of Raymond Scott: Reckless Nights and Turkish Twilights (review)

RAYMOND SCOTT — The Music of Raymond Scott: Reckless Nights and Turkish Twilights album cover Boxset / Compilation · 1992 · Exotica Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
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RAYMOND SCOTT is known as the man who made cartoons swing and although he is hardly a household name, his music has most likely been heard by everyone in one form or another. This compilation RECKLESS NIGHTS AND TURKISH TWILIGHTS showcases the earliest stage of his career when he lead his band the RAYMOND SCOTT QUINTETTE. It is this period where he composed some of his biggest hits which proved to be big sellers in their time and immortalized forever after he sold his music publishing to Warner Bros in 1943. The music director Carl Stalling would then adapt his music to the extensive Loonie Tunes catalog. Over the years his unique brand of exotic jazz has become a staple for that cartoony feel and his music has found its way into the likes of The Simpsons, Ren And Stimpy, The Oblongs, Batfink and Duckman as well as the never-ending reboots of Looney Tunes cartoons themselves. All the compositions on this compilation were recorded from 1937 to 1940.

RAYMOND SCOTT's intent was to lead his Quintette in order to revitalize the swing in jazz music. He was unorthodox in his approach and irritated many a jazz purist for his disregard of what was thought to be “proper” jazz. His compositions are energetic, busy and complex yet always catchy and although improvisation went into the creation of his music, once finished, the music remained exactly as completed. SCOTT had an affinity for incorporating classical music into his mix as well. No other track is this as obvious as his version of Mozart's “Rondo Alla Turca” which finds itself adapted into a jazz context and titled “In An 18th Century Drawing Room.” Another attribute that set SCOTT apart from most other jazz musicians of the day was the fact that although he was the leader of the band, he rarely took the limelight of performing solos himself and left that to the other members of the band. SCOTT was a pianist and the focus is mostly directed on the brass.

To my ears, RAYMOND SCOTT's music has many diverse influences ranging from the classic dixieland jazz, to the early piano jazz of Art Tatum with other sounds being borrowed from Western classical music, Klezmer and Middle Eastern music. The brilliance is in how well it is woven together seamlessly into a cohesive whole and despite the complexities of the music always comes across as a gleeful sonic stomp throughout imaginary lands which lends itself perfectly to the cartoon world in which it has been used the most. This cartoon swing sound in the RAYMOND SCOTT QUINTETTE would not persist though as in the beginning of the 40s he would take on new projects including collaborating with Les Paul and Mary Ford to record pop songs and would eventually take on the entirely different musical world of electronic music in its infancy.

The true legacy of SCOTT won't be from the scant few recordings that he would release but from the influence he laid down leading to a wealth of samplings, reinterpretations and covers finding its way into the disparate artistic arenas of film, television, theater and countless different musical genres. For example, samples can be found on albums by the trip hop group Gorillaz, the progressive rock band Rush, hip hop acts such as J Dilla, indie rock acts such as TV On The Radio and even in ska by the the band Save Ferris. A truly underrated jazz icon who may not have found the biggest success under his own name but achieved it in a rather strange roundabout under-the-radar way. On this compilation you can hear his own version of his own music as originally released.
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