Trombonist/composer/conductor JC Sanford is a musician of rare breadth, deeply rooted in the traditions of Jazz and Classical music, yet constantly pushing at their boundaries. Equally at home in many roles, Sanford works regularly as a composer, performer, arranger and conductor.
A protégé of legendary composer and trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, he has performed with the likes of Danilo Pérez, Matt Wilson, Donny McCaslin, and George Schuller. He has been a member of several diverse NYC-based ensembles including the Andrew Rathbun Large Ensemble, Nathan Parker Smith’s prog-rock big band, Andrew Green’s film noir tribute Narrow Margin, British singer-songwriter Joy Askew’s New York Brass, and Joseph C. Phillips, Jr.’s jazz/new music hybrid Numinous.
JC's original works often defy labels such as 'Jazz' or 'Classical'. While he originally built a reputation through big band writing, JC has forayed into many other areas - composing for solo piano, wind and brass formations and various mixed chamber ensembles. A founding member of the composers' federation Pulse (with Darcy James Argue & Joseph C. Phillips, Jr.), JC was a member of the BMI Jazz Composers' Workshop led by Jim McNeely and Mike Abene for 3 years and continued on as the contractor of the BMI/New York Orchestra for 13 more. His works have been performed by John Abercrombie, Lew Soloff, Dave Liebman, Danilo Perez, and a number of universities and high schools across the United States.
JC has appeared on over 30 recordings as a trombonist, conductor, composer, and producer. His 2014 debut CD with the JC Sanford Orchestra entitled Views from the Inside yielded international acclaim and was awarded a 2014 Aaron Copland Fund Recording Grant alongside organizations and ensembles such as the Seattle Symphony, Nonesuch Records, and American Composers Forum. He is also the leader of two small groups, the jazz quartet JC4 (who has two records out on Red Piano Records and Shifting Paradigm Records), and the chamber jazz trio Triocracy (also Shifting Paradigm Records). His new recording Imminent Standards Trio, Vol I is releasing summer 2021.
JC is in high demand as a conductor of new original music. He conducts the thrice-Grammy-nominated John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble, Joel Harrison's Infinite Possibility, the Alan Ferber Nonet with Strings, the Frank Carlberg Large Ensemble, and the Alice Coltrane Orchestra featuring Ravi Coltrane, Jack DeJohnette, and Charlie Haden. He was the curator the "Size Matters" large ensemble series Brooklyn for 4 1/2 years, a unique weekly series that featured large ensembles that performed all original music.
Since returning to MN with his family in 2016, JC has performed as a trombonist in the Twin Cities area with JT and Chris Bates, Davu Seru, Anthony Cox, Babatunde Lea, Zacc Harris, Dave Hagedorn, Mike Lewis, and Laura Caviani. In 2017 co-founded the Twin Cities Jazz Composers' Workshop alongside his wife and composer Asuka Kakitani. He is currently Visiting Professor of Jazz at St. Olaf College. He received a 2018 McKnight Composer Fellowship and a 2019 MN State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant to record his quartet. In 2019, he was named Musical/Artistic Director of the JazzMN Orchestra. He is also the blog curator for the International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers.