Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Original Production Drawing of a Grasshopper Jazz Bass Player from "Woodland Cafe," 1937

Original production drawing of a Grasshopper Jazz Bass Player from "Woodland Cafe," 1937; Red, blue, green, light green, brown, yellow, orange, and graphite pencil on peg hole paper; Numbered 52 lower right; Size - Bass Player: 7 1/2 x 7 1/2", Sheet 10 x 12"; Unframed.

"Woodland Café,"1937 is a Silly Symphonies animated Walt Disney short film that was filmed in Technicolor. While it contained no on-screen credits, Wilfred Jackson was the director and Leigh Harline was the musical director.

Close up of the Grasshopper Jazz Bass Player production drawing.

The setting for "Woodland Cafe" is a Harlem-like jazz nightclub staffed and frequented entirely by insects. The band in the cafe, led by a Cab Calloway-like bandleader, is made up of grasshoppers playing instruments that are composed of wood and flowers. The animated short film is broken into three sections. In the first, the patrons are shown arriving, ushered to their tables, and then being served. The second features a performance of a good-girl fly resisting the advances of a bad-boy spider (eventually getting the better of him). Finally everyone ends up dancing, as the orchestra plays (and sings) "Everybody's Truckin," a song written by Fats Waller. The song showcased a dance style that was popular at the time; which involved the shoulders rising and falling as the dancers move towards each other, while the fore finger of the hand points up and wiggles back and forth. 

Close up of the production number.

This is an exceptional color reference drawing for one of the Grasshopper Jazz Band members. This particular drawing is the Bass Player and was used during the beginning of the short. Two small "baby bugs" have taken bites out of the wooden bass instrument (you can see a few bite holes in the bottom right part of the bass drawing) and the Grasshopper player is angry and ends up shooing them away with his bow. The drawing is rendered in red, blue, green, light green, brown, yellow, orange, and graphite pencil on peg hole animation paper. The image of the Grasshopper with his bass and bow are centered on the sheet and occupy the majority of space. This is a very rare and fine drawing, from a very fun and jazz filled Walt Disney cartoon short of the 1930's.

To view the scene which this drawing was used to create, click on the short video below:

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