The Cartoon Jazz Project

The Cartoon Jazz project was launched in 2003 at the Stanford Jazz Festival with the revival of charts from the great American composer Raymond Scott. Jeff Sanford tracked down many of the charts written for sextet and 13 piece band in public archives and private collections. Members of his bands have since written new arrangements and new compositions of jazz used in and out of cartoons.

Raymond Scott never intended to write for cartoons. His frantic rhythms were emulating the fast and energetic sounds of the New York City lifestyle. Carl Stalling, then music director at Warner Brothers, and an avid admirer of Scott's music, used many of Scott's themes in the scores overlaying the cartoon movies of our childhood friends Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig.

The first performance in 2003 generated an immediate enthusiastic response. Since then Jeff Sanford's Cartoon Jazz Septet & Orchestra has become a cultural hallmark of the San Francisco bay area. The Orchestra is far more than just a 'cartoon music band,' with an ever growing library of new arrangements and the commissioning of new compositions, Jeff Sanford and his Cartoon Jazz Septet & Orchestra are nostalgic and current and the same time.

Sonoma Valley Jazz Society: 
Tuesday September 12, 2017 

Jeff Sanford – Director - Woodwinds, Alto/Tenor Sax

Mark Rosengarden – Drums, Percussion 

Andy Ostwald – Piano 

Randy Johnson – Arranger - Banjo, Guitar, Vocals

Hal Richards – Tenor/Baritone Sax, Woodwinds 

Eric Wayne – Trumpet, Flugelhorn Simon Planting – Bass 

On a beautiful fall-like Tuesday evening in September the Grinstead Amphitheatre in Sonoma Plaza was filled to capacity for a performance by Jeff Sanford’s Cartoon Jazz Septet. The Septet began in 2010 as an offshoot of Jeff Sanford’s 17-piece Cartoon Jazz Orchestra, which in turn was formed in 2003 to revive the music of American composer Raymond Scott. As Jeff wrote “Raymond Scott never intended to write for cartoons. His frantic rhythms were emulating the fast and energetic sounds of the New York City lifestyle. Carl Stalling, then music director at Warner Brothers, and an avid admirer of Scott's music, used many of Scott's themes in the scores overlaying the cartoon movies of our childhood friends Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig.” 

Anyone in the audience wondering what Cartoon Jazz was about was quickly informed by the group’s opening number, a medley of Raymond Scott charts used in Warner brothers cartoon shorts. Other Scott tunes featured throughout the evening included: ‘Dinner Music For A Pack Of Hungry Cannibals’, ‘Manhattan Minuet’, ‘Oil Gusher’, ‘Bird Life In The Bronx’, ‘Powerhouse’, ‘Sleepwalker’, and ‘The Penguin’. Many of Scott’s arrangements are at extremely fast tempos; this and the music’s complexity demand instrumental virtuosity of the highest order from the musicians in the group. 

Another big influence on the Septet is Los Angeles guitarist and composer, Lenny Carlson, who has contributed special compositions and arrangements to their repertoire. Among his tunes featured on the program were: ‘Cartoon Jazz Dance’, ‘Hit Toon’, ‘The Toddler’. Special mention must be made of Carlson’s haunting ballad “Dancing With Harold Arlen”, which featured the beautiful alto flute playing of multi-instrumentalist Hal Richards. 

Interspersed among the Scott and Carlson scores were wonderful tunes from the history of jazz, which served to illustrate both the versatility and the musicianship of the Septet. One highlight was the band’s intricate arrangement of Jelly Roll Morton’s ragtime-influenced ‘London Blues’. Another was their version of trumpeter Charlie Shavers’ beautiful composition for the John Kirby Sextet, ‘Dawn On The Desert’, with its echoes of the Middle-East. Gershwin’s ‘It Ain’t Necessarily So’ from Porgy And Bess was sung by guitarist Randy Johnson to an arrangement that seemed to swell the Septet to Big Band size. 

The regular attendees at these Tuesday night jazz concerts always expect something special because the Sonoma Valley Jazz Society has been delivering that special something year after year. Jeff Sanford’s Cartoon Jazz Septet certainly lived up to those expectations with their musicianship, inventiveness, and originality. 

John Dodgson

Sonoma Valley Jazz Society 

PO Box 1533 Sonoma, CA 95476 707-373-0700 

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Previous events


Cartoon Jazz Septet & Tuba

Blue Note, 1030 Main St., Napa

Jeff Sanford’s Cartoon Jazz Septet is a smaller version of the Cartoon Jazz Orchestra, which Jeff Sanford organized in 2003 to play the eccentric, highly entertaining and challenging music of American composer Raymond Scott. This music is known to millions around the world—it was the soundtrack to 120 classic Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoons. The first public appearance of the Cartoon Jazz Orchestra was at the 2003 Stanford Jazz Festival, and the group has been performing regularly ever since. They appeal to young children who love the great variety of instruments and sounds, older adults who remember the original cartoons, and music lovers of all ages who appreciate the sophisticated, out-of-the-box compositions and performances.

The vision of the Septet extends far beyond Raymond Scott’s music these days. Among other icons, Jelly Roll Morton and Duke Ellington are represented, as is Charlie Shavers, the brilliant trumpeter, composer and arranger who “jazzed the classics” for the John Kirby Sextet in the 1930s. Since 2009, Lenny Carlson has been composer-in-residence for both the Septet and the Orchestra, composing more than 30 original pieces in a variety of styles. He has also composed a number of Latin-flavored pieces that are part of the Cartoon Jazz Septet repertoire.

The show will also feature Zachariah Spellman, Principal Tubist for the San Francisco Opera Orchestra since 1977 and for the Marin Symphony since 1980.

Ages 8+

Community Tuesdays: Cartoon Jazz Septet

Schultz Cultural Arts Hall, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto

COMMUNITY TUESDAY Jeff Sanford’s Cartoon Jazz Septet Lunch & Concert in the Schultz Cultural Arts Hall Music at Noon Performance Series

Tuesday, January 19 12:00–1:30 PM Early admittance at 11:40 AM for people with RSVPs by January 17 to Michelle Rosengaus at (650) 223-8616 or

$20 or two punches on the Community Tuesday punch card. Price includes buffet lunch and concert. Oshman Family JCC | Taube Koret Campus For Jewish Life 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto 94303 | | (650) 223-8700 Enjoy the always exciting Cartoon Jazz Septet performing the music of Raymond Scott, Lenny Carlson, Jelly Roll Morton, John Kirby and others. Their jazz performance is fun, refined, rehearsed and spontaneous all at the same time!

Jeff Sanford, Septet Director: Clarinet, piccolo, flute, soprano, alto saxes Mark Rosengarden: Drums, percussion Simon Planting: Bass Andy Ostwald: Piano Randy Johnson: Banjo, guitar, glockenspiel, vocals, arranger Hal Richards: Tenor, bari sax, clarinet, piccolo, oboe, flutes Eric Wayne: Trumpet, flugelhorn

Sponsored in part by the Leo Gabow Memorial Fund.


Cartoon Jazz Septet

Rhythmix Cultural Works, 2513 Blanding Ave, Alameda

Cartoon Jazz Septet When: Sunday, November 8, 2015 Time: 2 pm Where: Rhythmix Cultural Works, 2513 Blanding Avenue, Alameda Cost: $20/advance; $25/day of show; $10 children under 13; $50 Family Pack (2 adults + 2 children) Info:, (510) 865-5060 Classic cartoons—from Bugs Bunny and Wile E. Coyote to Walt Disney and Tex Avery—have provoked laughter in audiences of all ages with their ridiculous antics for decades. Close your eyes, however, and you’ll notice just how much the music adds to your enjoyment of these mini-masterpieces. Jeff Sanford and his Cartoon Jazz Septet bring new life to the big band sounds that accompanied the animation of the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s. In addition, they perform an ever-expanding set of new arrangements of jazz greats and original commissions. Join them for a concert featuring the music of Lenny Carlson, Raymond Scott, Jelly Roll Morton, Charlie Shavers & John Kirby, and others on Sunday, November 8. Cartoon Jazz Septet & Orchestra has delighted audiences at venues throughout the Bay Area and recorded multiple albums, including Cartoon Logic and More Cartoon Logic.