(Jeremy Cohen, violin; Kayo Miki, violin; Emily Onderdonk, viola; Joel Cohen, cello)
There are now several entries in the swingin’ string quartet sweepstakes, and the QSF – founded in 2001 – received two Grammy nominations for their last CD centered around the tango. (Another good one is The Turtle Island Quartet, of which Jeremy was formerly a member.) This time the main theme is celebration of the centennial of the birth of the versatile iconoclast composer/bandleader/inventor and electronic music pioneer Raymond Scott – whose whimsical music was exposed on Warner Bros. cartoon soundtracks in the 40s and 50s – although he never wrote a single piece for the express purpose of accompanying animation. He began as an engineer but his brother had urged to pursue his interests in music.
The 18 short tracks include such Scott hits as Powerhouse, Boy Scout in Switzerland, The Penguin, Celebration on the Planet Mars, and The Toy Trumpet – probably his best-known tune. In addition, clever string quartet versions of tunes from Chick Corea, David Grisman, Ellington, Tower of Power, and even Leonard Bernstein are included. Corea’s Spain fits surprisingly well to the string quartet transcription, and loses little of its energetic swing. Tower of Power’s What Is Hip? brings the jazzy quartet program to a rousing close. Sonic quality is excellent, having been recorded at the low-noise-floor Skywalker Ranch north of San Francisco.
TrackList: Powerhouse, Spain, The Mooche, Pick Up the Pieces, Tanguori, Boy Scout in Switzerland, Peter Tambourine, I Hear Music, Harlem Nocturne, Dawg’s Bull, Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen, The Penguin, Celebration on the Planet Mars, Gee Officer Krupke, The Toy Trumpet, Under the Sea, Siberian Sleighride, What Is Hip?
– John Henry