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'Cutey And The Dragon' From ‘Raymond Scott Reimagined’ Nabs Grammy Nom For ‘Best Instrumental Composition’

'Cutey And The Dragon' From ‘Raymond Scott Reimagined’ Nabs Grammy Nom For ‘Best Instrumental Composition’

Courtesy Raymond Scott Archives

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Representing an entirely brand new composition crafted from an unfinished sketch Scott made for his granddaughter in 1982, GRAMMY®/Emmy Award-winning composer/producer/arranger Gordon Goodwin completed the song in a manner that honors the great composer’s style and verve.
—Jeremy Cohen
Violinjazz Recordings, the label of acclaimed GRAMMY nominated musician Jeremy Cohen, principal violinist and founder of Classical Crossover specialists Quartet San Francisco, have announced a GRAMMY nomination for ‘Best Instrumental Composition’ for “Cutey and the Dragon,” a song that appears on the critically-acclaimed album, Raymond Scott Reimagined, an unprecedented collaboration that features 30+ musicians honoring the incredible groundbreaking canon of composer Raymond Scott (1908-1994).

Representing an entirely brand new composition crafted from an unfinished sketch Scott made for his granddaughter in 1982, GRAMMY/Emmy Award-winning composer/producer/arranger Gordon Goodwin completed the song in a manner that honors the great composer’s style and verve.

Though extremely prolific and accomplished in his lifetime, the nomination for “Cutey and the Dragon” is a first for Raymond Scott. His children Deborah (Scott Studebaker) and Stan (Warnow) were vital in helping with the process, “Our father started writing and recording in the 1930s—long before the first Grammy Awards ceremony in 1959. And now—some thirty years after his passing—Raymond Scott has received his first Grammy nomination! We’re thrilled and beyond grateful to co-writer/fellow nominee Gordon Goodwin and his Big Phat Band, and to Jeremy Cohen and Quartet San Francisco for their superb creativity and craftsmanship in bringing ‘Cutey and the Dragon’ to life.”

“‘Cutey’ was written on November 30, 1982 for Raymond’s granddaughter, Kathy when she was a teenager studying viola at Interlochen Arts Academy and visiting him during a school break. Ever the teacher, our dad created a musical sketch which he called “An Idea—Cutey and the Dragon” to coach Kathy on her technique. The title reflects the same iconic style Scott brought to so many of his compositions.”

“Kathy also recalls that it fit with his coaching to create more distinctive phrasing to reflect the personalities of Cutey and the dragon. She has fond memories of the time she and her grandfather spent together that week.”

“Years later, Kathy’s mother (our late sister Carrie) met Jeremy (Cohen) and mentioned the viola sketch to him. Jeremy asked to see it and wanted to include it on his 'Raymond Scott Reimagined' album with Gordon Goodwin. Gordon ultimately expanded and finished the composition in a way which completely honored our father’s energy and style.”

Co-producer, composer, arranger, and 25-time GRAMMY nominee, Gordon Goodwin recalls his introduction to the iconic composer and approach to the project, “I took a deep dive into the music of Raymond Scott when I was working as a composer for Warner Brothers Animation. His music made quite an impact on me, so when Jeremy approached me about collaborating on a project featuring Scott’s music, the answer was an immediate and enthusiastic yes!”

“There is a long list of great Raymond Scott songs from which to pick, but we knew that were some tunes we had to include, such as ‘Powerhouse’ and ‘Toy Trumpet,’ but we were excited when the Raymond Scott Archives presented us with an unfinished lead sheet to a song called ‘Cutey and the Dragon’ that Scott was working on with, and for, his granddaughter Kathy. They asked if I wanted to arrange it, but as I examined the lead sheet, I realized that it really wasn’t a finished composition, but ­­rather a work in progress. So the Scott family gave me the honor of finishing the composition. This allows us to present something rare—a previously unheard composition by Raymond Scott.”

The bristling 14-track collection (which arrived July 21 via Violinjazz Recordings) also features the vocal majesty or revered GRAMMY winning a cappella group Take 6, while also including interstitials of Raymond speaking, along with spoken word from audio historian Art Shifrin and GRAMMY winning composer/conductor John Williams, excerpted from the documentary film, ‘Deconstructing Dad’ (directed by Stan Warnow).

Two years in the making, Raymond Scott Reimagined is actually a journey of nearly 50. Executive Producer, Jeremy Cohen explains, “I grew up during an era when a simple turn of the television dial could bring one's world from Leonard Bernstein to animation and cartoons. Escape, creativity, and whimsy fueled my imagination where animation offered a humorous view of the world. As a kid studying classical violin, I was fascinated by Carl Stalling's incorporation of iconic classical music into the Warner Brothers cartoon soundtracks.”

“Raymond Scott, who never actually wrote music expressly for animation, was widely quoted in Merrie Melodies cartoons featuring Bugs Bunny, Daffy and pals. Scott’s music sat right alongside the world's most recognizable classical music and became part of the soundtrack of my imagination. Scott's arrangements bring musical shape to emotions.”

While the basis of the album would be an alliance between Quartet San Francisco and Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band, the two group leaders decided to engage a variety of ensembles to partner with the string quartet. These include pairing the string quartet with the big band on “Powerhouse,” “The Quintette Goes to a Dance,” “Twilight in Turkey,” and “Cutey and the Dragon,” incorporating a smaller ensemble of three horns on “Toy Trumpet” and a saxophone quintet on “Yesterday's Ice Cubes.” Two pianos enhanced “Huckleberry Duck” with the gorgeous vocals of Claude V. McKnight III, Mark Kibble, Joel Kibble, Dave Thomas, Alvin Chea and Khristian Dentley (of the group Take 6) joining on “In an 18th Century Drawing Room” and “Serenade.” The results are spellbinding.

A distinctive collaboration is quite the understatement. Between the three main collaborators, QSF, Goodwin and Take 6, they’ve earned 60+ GRAMMY nominations, scoring 12 wins. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of the size and scope of Reimagined as thirty best-in-class musicians amplify the sound and vision including Wayne Bergeron (trumpet), Ray Brinker (drums), Joey De Leon (percussion, congas, bongos), Justin Smith (guitar), Andy Waddell (guitar), Kevin Axt (bass), Sal Lozano (alto sax), Brett McDonald (alto sax, piccolo, clarinet), Brian Scanlon (tenor sax), Thomas Luer (tenor sax), Jay Mason (baritone sax), Daniel Fornero (trumpet), Aaron Janik (trumpet), Dan Savant (trumpet), Andrew Martin (trombone), Charlie Morillas (trombone), Francisco Torres (trombone), Craig Gosnell (bass trombone), Wade Culbreath (marimba, vibes, xylophone, cowbell), Meredith Clark (harp) and Don Williams (timpani, tom-toms) with Goodwin on piano and tenor sax and esteemed accompaniment by the other three virtuosos in Quartet San Francisco, Joseph Christianson (violin), Chad Kaltinger (viola) and Andrés Vera (cello).

Also in the mix is GRAMMY winning engineer Leslie Ann Jones, who’s recognized for her work with Kronos Quartet, Chanticleer and Rosemary Clooney and whom Cohen’s worked with on previous projects including Pacific Premieres: New Works by California Composers.

For Raymond Scott Reimagined, Jones recorded the joint sessions at Lucasfilm’s Skywalker Sound, the famed studio on George Lucas’s Skywalker Ranch in Nicasio, California. Additional recording took place at Dragonfly Creek Recording in Malibu and Lake Balboa Sound in LA.

Buckle up, huckleberry duck. An unprecedented powerhouse for your consideration, it’s cutey and the dragon for the win.

Cutey and the Dragon

Composed by Raymond Scott and Gordon Goodwin

Musicians

Gordon Goodwin, piano
Ray Brinker, drums
Joey De Leon, percussion
Andrew Waddell, guitar
Kevin Axt, bass
Sal Lozano, alto saxophone
Brian Scanlon, tenor saxophone
Jay Mason, baritone saxophone, bass clarinet
Wayne Bergeron, trumpet
Daniel Fornero, trumpet
Mike Rocha, trumpet
Andy Martin, trombone
Francisco Torres, trombone
Craig Gosnell, bass trombone
Joey De Leon, congas, bongos
Wade Culbreath, marimba, vibes, xylophone
Jeremy Cohen, violin
Joseph Christianson, violin
Chad Kaltinger, viola
Andrés Vera, cello
Recorded at Dragonfly Creek Recording, Malibu, California
Charles Pollard, Recording engineer
Strings recorded at Skywalker Sound, Nicasio, California
Leslie Ann Jones, Recording engineer
Dann Thompson, Assistant engineer

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