Scientists working diligently in a laboratory somewhere recently discovered a DNA strand and have identified it as the Cartoon Gene. This revelation proves the visual link between animation and sound. What they found is that cartoons permanently imprint sounds on your brain, for instance the sound of a character sneaking up stairs is a quickly rising pizzicato violin. That is why exposure to the music of Raymond Scott, adapted for Warner Brothers, brings automatic memories to anyone over forty.
This Cartoon Gene is summoned on the bulk of Quartet San Francisco's Whirled Chamber Music, a follow-up to the Grammy-nominated tango record, Látigo (ViolinJazz Recordings, 2006). The quartet honors Scott on the anniversary of his hundredth birthday with skilled renditions of his most famous songs.
The very familiar music would make Scott proud. The four players negotiate the tightly written tunes with great precision, with violist Emily Onderdonk playing a fowl role on "The Penguin and cellist Joel Cohen handling the brass parts on "The Toy Trumpet. Certainly, no Scott tribute is complete without the classic "Powerhouse. QSF completes the piece together, with the second part chock full of industry. Each Scott composition evokes strong visual memories to accompany the music.
Not a baby boomer? I spun "Under The Sea from Disney's Little Mermaid for my nephew, a college student. Same result.
This disc proves that the Cartoon Gene has been implanted in other aspects. Playing "Pick Up The Pieces, by the Average White Band, or "What Is Hip?, by Tower Of Power, for example, evokes similar responses. This chamber quartet is down with the funk, and they bring some tango on "Tanguori, a bit of American folk on David Grisman's "Dawg's Bull and a Yiddish flavor with "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen.
Most impressive are Duke Ellington's "The Mooche, a lazy/misty version of "Harlem Nocturne, and the highlight of the disc, a rousing take on Chick Corea's "Spain. The quartet express the spirit of the classic jazz track with a soaring energy and spirit.
Certainly, cartoons are not just for kids these days.
Personnel: Jeremy Cohen: violin; Kayo Miki: violin; Emily Onderdook: viola; Joel Cohen: cello.