Tuesday, 11 October 2016

The Sounds of Jonny Quest

Hoyt Curtin’s crowning achievement at Hanna-Barbera may have been the tracking library he wrote for Jonny Quest. His cues evoked adventure, suspense, danger, triumph, exotic locations and whimsical comedy. And Warner Leighton, Larry Cowan, Ken Spears and the rest of the film editing crew did an incomparable job matching Curtin’s cues to the action on screen.

Fans of the series have been puzzled for years why Rhino records or someone never released a CD of the Quest music, considering how incredibly popular it is among Hanna-Barbera fans. Surely it would be an instant seller. I once asked the late Earl Kress about it; Earl helped assemble the Hanna-Barbera Rhino CDs and had gone through the master recordings of the Quest cues. I can’t remember his answer but it doesn’t matter now. A release of the music is finally coming. Not a bootleg (there are several of them out there) but an official release.

La-La Land Records is joining with Warner Bros., the company that owns the remnants of Hanna-Barbera, to release a two CD set of 106 pieces of music used in the series. Three producers and a re-masterer have worked on this project, which also includes liner notes by Jon Burlingame and Jeff Bond (ah, if only Earl were still with us). Originally, Curtin titled almost every cue with an alpha-numeric but this set has dubbed each one with a name.

The complete Quest library has more than 106 pieces of music but I imagine the longer and best-known cues have been picked for release. (For example, the masters in the Hanna-Barbera music vault had alternate versions and inserts for the main title theme).

I can’t vouch for the quality of the CDs because I haven’t heard them and, to be honest, I had never heard of the company until cartoon musicologist Greg Ehrbar alerted me to it. But people have been waiting for this music for a long time and I hope fans won’t be disappointed.

Greg has provided a link to the releases here.

I suspect fans will now be clamouring for Ted Nichols’ cues for Space Ghost and The Herculoids next. Nichols is overshadowed by Curtin but came up with solid work for the action-adventure shows of the mid-to-late ‘60s.









Jonny Quest Main Title (without sfx)

7 comments:

  1. If you're interested in film & TV music, La-La-Land Records is a terrific label! I'm so happy to see they're delving into Curtin-land after years of serving up so many of my bucket-list titles!

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    1. The set is great and so is La La Land! There are only a couple of great cues missing from the set (one scary action and one playful) and then about 4-5 jungle drum type cues. The rest seems to be there. I too long for another release with the supplemental libraries from the other '60s H-B action shows.

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  2. La-La-Land did a very good job with Paramount in putting the themes and music cues from the original Star Trek onto CD, so I'd expect a similar quality effort here, as long as the folks at Warner Brothers were cooperative (i.e. -- the version of "This Is It" Warners provided three decades ago for the "Television's Greatest Hits" CD was an example of being uncooperative with a project just short of an outright refusal to permit use of the original music).

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    1. As long as you're on the subject of Paramount----anyone interested in reissue of their cartoon Winston Sharples cues? :) BTW Very good article, Yowp.

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  3. I loathed those TeeVeeToons "Television's Greatest Hits" CDs because they had way too many synthesizer re-creations (and we're talking '80s synths here).

    It's good that Jon Burlingam is ivolved; I have a copy of his book "TV's Biggest Hits" and highly recommend it. Here's a quote regarding the "Quest" theme:
    "Curtin was always hearing trombone players complain about 'falling asleep playing goose eggs,' a reference to whole notes, on other sessions. So he wrote the 'Jonny Quest' theme to feature six trombones... In addition to the trombones, the 'Quest' band featured five trumpets, four woodwinds, three French horns, and a large rhythm section..."

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    1. I meant to write "Burlingame is involved..."

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  4. Curtin told the very funny story that his six " Bone " players on the theme were very accomplished, but also very competitive. When the orchestra did the " cold read " on the theme, the trombone players after a while tried to out play each other. Then, some fell behind, others got ahead, but none would stop playing and admit that they goofed. Hoyt fell back in his chair laughing his head off. I wonder if somewhere, someone has that session. Probably sounded like " The Mayberry Band ".

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