The Raymond Scott Big Band was the lost chapter between Scott's early 1937–39 Quintette and his 1960s electronic music. The groundbreaking 1942 CBS band was the first multiracial radio orchestra, featuring such jazz legends as Ben Webster, Cozy Cole, and Charlie Shavers. This unit could swing hard, while navigating Scott's intricate passages. But unlike the Quintette, they also played improvised jazz.
Hemi Demi Semi Quaver: Buried Treasures of the Raymond Scott Big Band, collects 26 exciting cuts, mostly unreleased radio broadcasts recorded by the bandleader himself. The package features photos from the Scott archive and extensive liner notes by Scott scholar/guitarist Skip Heller, who co-produced this volume with Scott's son Stan Warnow for Real Gone Music. Available as a CD at Real Gone Music or Amazon.
"This deft ensemble could swing as well as Benny Goodman or Artie Shaw, and with more humor. The charming Hemi Demi Semi Quaver collects 26 exuberant tracks by this rollicking crew. Any fresh Raymond Scott is welcome, and this will fire up your tired circuits better than a strong cup of coffee." — Jon M. Young (The Big Takeover)
2020 was a notable year for Raymond Scott activity, but not without its dark side (as the world experienced). We remember and celebrate our late friend and colleague HAL WILLNER, who was an early victim of Covid-19 in April. Hal was a longtime Raymond Scott enthusiast who served as Executive Producer on the 1992 Columbia CD Reckless Nights and Turkish Twilights, which kicked off the Raymond Scott revival. Hal contributed to other Scott-related projects over the years. He was a featured interviewee in Stan Warnow's Scott bio film Deconstructing Dad, and in September 2018 Hal was a panelist at our debut ScottWorks conference in Los Angeles.
In the wider musical world he was sketch music coordinator at Saturday Night Live for 40 years, and had a legendary career as a music producer, renowned for his quirky, original vision. He worked with such artists as Lou Reed, Lucinda Williams, Leonard Cohen, Sun Ra, Metallica, and countless others, as well as producing genre-defining tribute albums. He launched the career of Jeff Buckley. Willner served as music supervisor on Robert Altman's Kansas City, on Norman, starring Richard Gere, and numerous other films. Although not a household name, Hal Willner was famous among the famous, a beloved and irreplaceable figure in the arts community, and in ours. [Photo of Hal by Patrick McMullen]
A lavish 2-LP/2-CD set of 120 TV and radio commercials from Scott's enormously successful Jingle Workshop, 1951–1965 was issued in 2019. For over a decade Scott earned a solid living composing, arranging, and recording catchy ditties for Revlon, Delta Airlines, Stuckey's, Alka-Seltzer, Sprite, the Ford Motor Company and other sponsors. Hear Dorothy Collins, Mel Tormé, and dozens of unnamed session vocalists and musicians serenade you about beer, ice cream, gasoline, cigarettes, more beer, bread, cars, mouthwash, and MORE beer. The album includes finished spots, outtakes, rehearsals, alternates, demos, studio chatter, and irresistible earworms about mid-20th century consumer goods. The styles range from cool jazz to percolating Latin, from lush orchestrations to piano & voice; and even some stray electronic works. Collection produced by Irwin Chusid for Modern Harmonic. On double LP and or two CDs.
Lizzo sampled "Nescafé" by Raymond Scott (from his album Manhattan Research, Inc.) on the track "Tempo" (with Missy Elliott) on her Grammy-winning album Cuz I Love You. Scott is credited as a co-writer. The track has been used in the soundtracks of the TV shows Euphoria, Bigger, Empire, So You Think You Can Dance, and others.
Scott's electronic "Pygmy Taxi Corporation" was sampled by T-Bone Burnett on his track "Anti Cyclone," and Academy Award-winning director Morgan Neville licensed Scott's "Lullaby" (from Soothing Sounds for Baby) for his documentary about Def Jam Records founder Rick Rubin.
We're in the early planning stages for Scottworks II in 2021, a followup to our successful 2018 event in L.A. It might be held on the east coast, or we may do it virtually.
Guitarist Skip Heller's Reckless Night Ensemble has a new album, Pan-Americanos, which includes covers of Scott's "Coming Down to Earth," "Powerhouse," "Naked City," and "Portofino."
Scott orchestral recordings have been used in the soundtracks of a number of recent TV shows, including Strange Angel, Watchmen, Hollywood, Amazing Stories, Ratched, and Lovecraft Country. Scott's electronic "Portofino" was used in How to with John Wilson.
Scott's experimental electronic work "The Rhythm Modulator" can be heard in the soundtrack of a Gucci video production.
Ego Plum's arrangement of Scott's "Powerhouse," used in the soundtrack of a 2019 episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, can be heard online at NickALive!
Machinedrum's recent album, A View of U, includes a cover of Scott's electronic work "Idea 36" in a track featuring Chrome Sparks, who commented: "Raymond Scott is an absolute boss. While on tour, we were blasting Scott’s early modular synth experimentations in the van. We loved them, so we had to try sampling. We ended up with what blossomed into our version of 'Idea 36'.” Machinedrum's Travis Stewart offers further comment at Magnetic Magazine.
HBOmax is rebooting Warner's legendary Looney Tunes cartoons, with the original cast of Bugs, Daffy, Roadrunner, Yosemite Sam, and others. The series will be using Scott's legendary "Powerhouse"—a recurring favorite of legendary WB music director Carl Stalling — for an upcoming episode which features a "robot Elmer Fudd" storyline.
And from Germany comes a recently unearthed 1944 recording of Scott's "Powerhouse" by the Willi Stech Orchester, which features an idiosyncratic arrangement of this classic Scott work.
SCOTTWORKS PERFORMANCE VIDEOS: We've posted a number of live performances from our September 2018 Raymond Scott Festival held in Burbank. Hear/see Scott tunes performed by Quartet San Francisco, Ego Plum, Skip Heller, Beth Sorrentino, and Michael Whelan.
ARTIFACTS FROM THE ARCHIVES: Learn more about Scott's electronic music career in our book Artifacts from the Archives, a FREE 349-page downloadable compendium of articles, documents, and ephemera, including previously uncirculated historic material.