Raymond Scott

Raymond_scottBorn Harry Warnow in 1908, he was a 1931 graduate of the Juilliard School of Music, where he studied piano, theory and composition. He later changed his name to Raymond Scott, and began his professional career as a pianist for the CBS Radio Orchestra. In late 1936, Scott recruited a band from among his CBS colleagues, calling it the “Raymond Scott Quintette.” It was a six-piece group and the original members were Pete Pumiglio, clarinet; Bunny Berigan, trumpet, soon replaced by Dave Wade; Louis Shoobe, upright bass; Dave Harris, tenor sax; and Johnny Williams, drums. They made their first recordings in New York in 1937.

The Quintette represented Scott’s attempt to revitalize swing music through tight, busy arrangements and reduced reliance on improvisation. He called this musical style “descriptive jazz,” and gave his works unusual titles like “New Year’s Eve in a Haunted House,” “Dinner Music for a Pack of Hungry Cannibals,” and “Bumpy Weather Over Newark.” While popular with the public, jazz critics disdained it as novelty music.

Although Scott rigidly controlled the band’s repertoire and style, he rarely took piano solos, preferring to direct the band from the piano and leaving solos to his sidemen. He also had a penchant for adapting classical motifs in his compositions; he was criticized by some serious music authorities who dismissed such practices as “trivializing the classics.” The public, who bought his records by the millions, loved the clever arrangements. The Quintette existed from 1937 to 1939, and racked up numerous big-selling hits. One of Scott’s best-known compositions was “The Toy Trumpet,” a cheerful tune that is instantly recognizable to many people.
CompositionArtistYear
PowerhouseRaymond Scott Quintette1937
The Tobacco AuctioneerRaymond Scott Quintette1937
In an 18th Century Drawing RoomRaymond Scott Quintette1937
The Quintette Plays CarmenRaymond Scott Quintette1939
The PenguinRaymond Scott Quintette1937
The Toy TrumpetRaymond Scott Quintette1937
War Dance for Wooden IndiansRaymond Scott Quintette1939