The Queen’s Cartoonists are a jazz band. They hail from Queens in New York City. And silent movie style, they play jazz to form a live soundtrack to cartoons, hence the name. They’re a six piece band. Joel Pierson is on the keyboard and keeps the rest of the band in order. Then we have a double bass, drums and an array of brass and percussion instruments: the sax, trumpet, trombone, clarinet and piccolo all make appearances.
Cartoons aside, these guys are clearly cracking musicians. Their musical style ranges from classic jazz to klezmer to parodies of theme tunes and their heartland seems to lie somewhere in between. Most of what they play is their original composition though these are varyingly informed by the cartoon they’re playing alongside. Clearly, Popeye needs his theme tune. The band is slick, sparky, infectiously energetic and inventive – this is an exercise in on the hoof live foley design.
The cartoons and animations are an added treat. We have Loony Tunes characters, Bambi with a twist, Betty Boop, the aforementioned strong man through to Shaun the Sheep and Wallace and Gromit, courtesy of Aardman. The band also love to support new animators. Eusong Lee’s beautiful My Moon, with an original soundtrack composed by Pierson, is a particular treat. Where the fish film might turn you vegetarian.
Whether you have kids in tow, love jazz or just fancy something a little out of the ordinary, this is a delightful show from The Queen’s Cartoonists. You’re very likely to find your foot tapping away before the band have got very far into their set – and you’ll leave with a wee extra spring in your step.