The jazz meets classical sextet synchronizes their show with classic cartoons and animated films, bringing virtuosic musicianship, multi-instrumental mayhem, and comedy to 34 cities throughout the United States and Canada this season
The Queen’s Cartoonists (TQC) perform live in front of a screen, where cartoons from the golden age of animation, cult cartoon classics, and modern animated films are projected. The band either recreates a cartoon’s soundtrack note-for-note – performing works from jazz composers like Carl Stalling, Raymond Scott, and Duke Ellington alongside classical giants like Mozart, Rossini and R. Strauss – or write their own fresh compositions to accompany the on-screen action. Tying everything together is TQC’s unique brand of comedy – anecdotes about the cartoons and their composers, humor, and elements of a musical circus.
This season, The Queen’s Cartoonists bring their family friendly show “Ages 2-102” to thirty-four cities spanning North America, including a stop at Greeley’s Union Colony Civic Center – Monfort Concert Hall on Friday, November 18 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $27-$33, visit ucstars.com or call 970-356-5000.
Since their founding in 2015, The Queen’s Cartoonists have sought to answer the question: is it possible to create jazz and classical music in the 21st century that appeals to everyone? The band – led by Dr. Joel Pierson (piano), and including Greg Hammontree (trumpet, trombone), Mark Phillips (clarinet, soprano saxophone), Drew Pitcher (flute, tenor saxophone), Rossen Nedelchev (drums), and Malik McLaurine (bass) – seems to have unlocked the answer, breathing new life into two uniquely American forms of art: jazz and animation.
“This is a theatrical concert,” Pierson said. “It is mainly focused on presenting characters from classical American animation. But there are also contemporary elements, plus the ‘musical circus’ that people didn’t know they wanted to see!”
There are six members in the band, and according to Pierson they’re all from Queens, New York, hence the addition of the apostrophe in the band’s name; Pierson said it was to be more illustrative and hopefully convince someone that they’re property of the Royal family.
Pierson functions within the band as the artistic director, which means he’s responsible for writing, arranging the music, finding the animations, and directing the show, but added that the other members of the band are very committed to the project and all contribute in their own ways, as well. Pierson said the idea for the band came from his exploration of ways to share both jazz and classical music with modern audiences.
“I was looking for a way to expose audiences to jazz and classical music, without alienating the more traditional, older concert going audience. One day I noticed that there was some overlap between the Golden Age of Jazz and the Golden Age of Animation, and bam,” Pierson said.
While the concert is for everyone, Pierson said that it’s presented for adults, but children enjoy it, as well. Pierson said some of the music is original but that every piece they perform it presents a different set of problems. Pierson added that audiences can expect to hear both recognizable classical and jazz tunes in addition to new works.
“Sometimes we want to re-create a film score note-for-note – in that case I’m not composing at all, just adapting the music for this ensemble. Sometimes, however, I decide to completely re-write the music from scratch. Often, it’s somewhere in-between,” Pierson said. “Older generations grew up with the films and characters that we highlight and are generally more amenable to jazz and classical music. Younger generations might not think they like jazz or classical music, but the combination of the animations and synchronicity of the experience are enjoyed by everyone.”
When asked how they keep in sync with the films, Pierson said the pieces the band plays are highly synchronized to the films, and they achieve that with a click track that only the drummer and Pierson can hear. Pierson said you can notice they have earpieces and that allows for the other members follow their lead.
Pierson said he writes his own jokes on stage and if you don’t like them, you’re asked to please complain to the drummer.
Be sure to follow The Queen’s Cartoonists at thequeenscartoonists.com.