“Millions of us who grew up watching the crafty wabbit, Daffy Duck and the Roadrunner were weaned on Scott’s fun-house music — patches of “Dinner Music for a Pack of Hungry Cannibals,” “Powerhouse,” “War Dance for Wooden Indians” — without knowing it… the wild energy and shifting colors of this music, which, like Gershwin’s and Monk’s, pulses with the rushing rhythms and blaring horns of modern city life.”
— Jesse Hamlin, San Francisco Chronicle
The Cartoon Jazz Band was launched in 2003 at the Stanford Jazz Festival with the revival of charts from the great American composer, Raymond Scott. Jeff Sanford tracked many charts of the famous composer, written for 13-piece bands in public archives and private collector libraries. 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 for 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 Bug’s Bunny and Porky Pig. The first performance generated an immediate enthousiastic response.
Since then Jeff Sanford’s Cartoon Jazz Band has become a cultural hallmark of the San Francisco bay area.
Hundreds of fans have subscribed to the mailing list. The band has performed in most major jazz venues of San Francisco area, including Jazz at Pearl’s in North Beach and the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley. The music has been played on KCSM, a major jazz station in the SF bay area, auspicious reviews were written in the San Francisco Chronicle and other newpapers, and Jeff Sanford has been a regular guest on the Basin Street Blues radio show with local favorite radio host and comedian Mal Sharpe.
The repertoire has expanded to include three hours of fun material. Some of the most talented of the San Francisco musicians stick with the project because it’s challenging, it’s fun and it’s good music. It’s a work of love and this enthusiasm connects with the audience. People who hear the band live have a good time. There’s good jazz blowing, not just novelty tricks. Few bands keep Scott’s material alive. There is a good group in Amsterdam doing Scott’s material and a sextet in NY, making the Sanford 13 piece group quite unique. Many of the cartoon music scores have unfortunately been destroyed. Consequently, many of the charts played by the group are original arrangements taken and expanded from recordings and lead sheets graciously provided by the Raymond Scott archives.