Quartet San Francisco

Audiophile Audition review of Whirled Chamber Music

Quartet San Francisco – Whirled Chamber Music – ViolinJazz Recordings JCCD105, 66:00

The main theme is celebration of the centennial of the birth of the versatile iconoclast composer/bandleader/inventor and electronic music pioneer Raymond Scott

CD Review by John Henry, Audiophile Audition

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.