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Animation … and All that Jazz

Linger long enough in front of the Firehouse on Disneyland’s Main Street, and you’re FullSizeRenderbound to hear a Dixieland jazz band playing old-time favorites. Few people realize that the first Disney firehouse band was made up of Walt Disney’s original animators. These were the guys who animated Snow White, Pinocchio, Bambi, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Lady and the Tramp, and more…the classics.

There were seven members in the original band, and they called themselves the Firehouse Five Plus Two.

I took this photo on a recent trip to Disneyland. But this band only has six members, not seven like the original firehouse band.

The Firehouse Five Plus Two

The Firehouse Five Plus Two was a hot ticket in the 1950’s. They played around town at night, as well as appearing in several Disney television specials, including the very first special in 1950, One Hour In Wonderland.

I had the opportunity to talk with Frank Thomas once, the piano player in the original band. He thought their music caught on, because they played for the sheer joy of it. I don’t doubt that’s true. The band was active from 1949 to 1972, playing and recording while never giving up their day jobs as animators and artists with the Walt Disney Studios. Their more than a dozen records are still available in digital formats today, standing the test of time.

The following image is from their appearance with Bing Crosby on his CBS radio program. [PC: Wikipedia]

Firehouse Five Plus Two with Bing Crosby

Their joyful energy is infectious in the following 1951 recording of “Brass Bell Blues”, featuring Ward Kimball (tb), Danny Alguire (tp), Clarke Mallery (cl), Frank Thomas (p), Harper Goff (bjo), Ed Penner (tu), and Monte Mountjoy (d). Google their names. You might be surprised by the classic Disney magic they each had a hand in creating.