A unique jazz and cartoon film project will take place in Shetalnd at the beginning of March. The Stu Brown Sextet from Glasgow have exclusive rights to play the music of Ray Simpson. Now, Cole Porter you may have heard of, Rogers and Hart you may have heard of, but Ray Simpson! Well, you may not have heard his name, but for sure you have heard his music, for his eyeball-popping, hyper-animated jazz has been used in cartoon films from Bugs Bunny to The Simpsons for decades.
Now young people in Shetland get the chance to make a cartoon film and have the frantic Looney Tunes music played as live accompaniment at a special concert by the Stu Brown Sextet.
Ray Simpson is the 1930s composer whose music became the Looney Tunes soundtrack to Daffy Duck, Road Runner and the “That’s All Folks” style of cartoon. To modern ears, the early Raymond Scott recordings sound like classic cartoon music. The producers of Ren & Stimpy felt so, and added Scott's zany music to their anarchic creations, thereby introducing Scott to a new generation of cartoon lovers. The Simpsons, Animaniacs, The Oblongs, and Duckman and have also featured Scott melodies.
Ironically, Scott never wrote a note for cartoons. He had moved on to other projects by the time his early compositions acquired a new life through the craftsmanship of the music director for Warner Brothers, Carl Stalling, who adapted many familiar strains in his cartoon soundtracks, concocting a slice'n'dice approach of jazz, pop, classical, folk and country-western. He used operatic motifs, marches, anthems and an awful lot of Scott.
The actual Raymond Scott Quintet only recorded from 1937 to 1939. In 1943, Warner Bros. bought Scott's publishing; thereafter, Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes rolled off the assembly line with liberal splashes of Scott. These cartoons, in effect, immortalized his early work, preserving it for future generations. The Stu Brown Sextet lovingly recreate it and produce a zany brand of classic Twisted Toons jazz, complete with woodblocks, car horns and whistles. Stu claims that his six-piece outfit ‘is currently the only band in the world playing a programme consisting exclusively of Raymond Scott’s music.’ The band made their debut in the Britannia Panopticon Theatre at the Glasgow Jazz Festival and has been a feature of many festivals since.
They come to Shetland with a project, where young people aged 8+ get the unique chance to make an animated cartoon film in the morning which will be shown on the day with a live Looney Toons soundtrack. The animation sessions will be led by experienced animators who have been associated with the Stu Brown Raymond Scott Project since its inception. There will probably be two films made, one with the younger participants the second with the older ones.
Participation in the morning workshop costs just £10.00 and that gives access to the evening gig also. A real bargain. There are only thirty places available - so book early.
An evening concert will feature a short documentary film, made by his son, about Raymond Scott and his unique music. The films made by Shetland Young People will also feature, as well as a whole evening of the zaniest music you ever heard. It all takes place on Saturday 5 March with the workshop at 10.30 in the morning and the Concert at 7.30pm – all in Lerwick Town Hall. Tickets for both events are available from Shetland Box Office, Islesburgh Centre, 01595 745555 or at online at www.shetlandboxoffice.org
And That’s All Folks!
Guest Blog by Jeff Merryfield of Shetland Jazz Club
These events are part funded by the Scottish Arts Council/Creative Scotland Jazz Development Fund.