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.
Sonoma Valley Jazz Society
PO Box 1533 Sonoma, CA 95476 707-373-0700