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: 
SUMMER CONCERT SERIES 
Tuesday September 12, 2017 
JEFF SANFORD’S CARTOON JAZZ SEPTET 

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

Oct25

Cartoon Jazz Septet

Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto

Children Of All Ages: Sunday October 25th Come one, come all to experience this fun-filled and wonderfully exciting show with Jeff Sanford’s Cartoon Jazz Septet performing the music of Raymond Scott and original compositions of Lenny Carlson paired with silent films, cartoons, dance and magic!