Born in Los Angeles, Lenny Carlson has been composing music for more than 40 years. His 4 recordings of original music include one selection nominated for a Grammy for Best Jazz Instrumental Composition, and his works have been recorded by other distinguished artists. He has composed for concert performance, live theater, independent film, videos, commercials, and mobile entertainment. Though he is at heart a jazz composer, he grew up as the son of classical musicians and was drawn to eclectic musical experiences as an adult. His influences include a broad pantheon, from Thelonious Monk to J.S. Bach, Sarah Vaughan to Willie Nelson. Thematically, his work often reflects his interest in complex cultural and historical figures and events.


Lenny’s ongoing collaboration with Jeff Sanford and his Cartoon Jazz Orchestra & Septet is one of the most significant creative partnerships of his career. The two ensembles, made up of some of the finest musicians in the San Francisco Bay area, provide Lenny with a freewheeling opportunity to compose adventurous music that gives nods to many genres.  Since his first composition for the group in 2009, he has written more than 40 pieces for their live performances and recordings. His 3-movement work, Aluminum Sunset: A Tribute to the Music of Raymond Scott (2009-2010), supported by an American Composers Forum Subito Grant, was performed at Stanford University and City College of San Francisco. In 2013, Cartoon Jazz released two CDs, Cartoon Logic and More Cartoon Logic, featuring one of Lenny’s compositions on each CD. The CJO is planning a CD entirely devoted to Lenny’s compositions. (See cartoonjazzorchestra.com.)

More About Lenny

Live Performances


Current Projects



Lenny Carlson

Family Vacation
Family vacation in British Columbia - 2013
LR - Marissa (daughter), Lisa (wife), Lenny, Elena (daughter)

Lenny & Friends
Full group for Seat of the Pants recording session (2007): with Lenny, L-R are Bill Douglass, bass; Annette Aguilar, percussion; Rebeca Mauleon, piano; Barry Green, bass; Kay Kostopoulos, vocals; Hal Richards, reeds and winds; the late great Eddie Marshall, drums.

Lenny with engineer/co-producer Russell Bond
Lenny with engineer/co-producer Russell Bond

Comparing notes with bassist Barry Green
Comparing notes with bassist Barry Green

Lenny Carlson