Whirled Chamber Music

Quartet San Francisco

Taking a page from the highly successful Kronos Quartet, which has been infusing pop music with classical string quartet elements for more than 30 years, the Quartet San Francisco (Jeremy Cohen, Kayo Miki, violins; Emily Onderdonk, viola; and Joel Cohen, cello) come out of the chamber with strings blazing. Established in 2001, the group celebrates the 2008 centennial of composer Raymond Scott, whose music is perhaps best known for its use in Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes cartoons in the ’40s and ’50s. Seven of the CD’s 16 tunes were written by Scott and imaginatively arranged by Jeremy Cohen, who was attracted to Scott’s “whimsical melodies and swinging rhythms.” There’s not a dull moment on the disc, which also sports such evocative pieces as “Harlem Nocturne,” Duke Ellington’s “The Mooche” and a seductive “I Hear Music.” Further examples of the quartet’s genre-busting music include Chick Corea’s “Spain,” the Average White Band’s “Pick Up the Pieces,” and a moody “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen.” A romping version of Tower of Power’s “What Is Hip” closes this extraordinarily energetic CD. As violinist Cohen says, “When the music says swing, we swing. When [it] says groove, we groove.” And do they ever!