(photo: Nancy Rothstein)
The first time Jeremy Cohen heard music by Raymond Scott, he was smitten. “I went on to search for everything I could find by the composer,” he says.
Some of what Cohen found—zippy, humorous, strange tunes with titles like ‘War Dance for Wooden Indians,’ ‘Boy Scout in Switzerland,’ and ‘Siberian Sleigh Ride’—will be performed 7:30 p.m. Friday, December 7 at the Berkeley Art Museum by Quartet San Francisco, featuring Cohen on violin.
Pianist and composer Scott (1908-1994) led a popular small aggregation during the World War II swing era playing precise renditions of instrumentals that were so animated they were soon being used as background music for Bugs Bunny cartoons.
In later years, Scott emerged as a pioneer in electronic music, creating pieces that blended exotica with the space age and were often used as commercial jingles.
“These are incredibly powerful pieces of music that really speak to people’s imaginations in a very positive way,” says Cohen, who arranged the songs for string quartet.
“He’s one of those great American musicians whose music is not as widely known as it could be, and we like to champion it whenever possible.”