Celluloid Improvisations is an archive of jazz (and jazz influenced and/or related) music preserved on 16mm sound film, videotape, laserdisc, DVD and various digital formats. The collection includes more than 4,000 separate performances, and while the archive's holdings focus on jazz, they also include such related forms of American music as blues, Swing, Western Swing, "pop," rhythm and blues, country-western, vernacular dance, vaudeville and variety arts, etc.
In addition to the preservation of music performance on film, one of the major focuses of the archive is gathering and evaluating as much information as possible about each of the films. A significant emphasis is placed on the identification of soundtrack musicians and on-screen (sideline) performers, including musicians, dancers and variety artists. Close attention is also paid to recording and sideline dates, and production personnel.
Films from the Archive have been shared publicly over the past forty-five years for a wide variety of sponsors, including Playboy Enterprises, The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, The International Association of Jazz Record Collectors, Monterey Jazz Festival, California African-American Museum, Academie du Dance (Paris, France), Healdsberg Jazz Festival, Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, Festival de Popoli (Florence, Italy), Rio de Janiero Festival of Jazz on Film, and many others.
Along with the public exhibitions of jazz films Mr. Cantor has served as a consultant in the production of a large number of documentaries and feature films, as well as books and magazine articles related to music on film. His footage has been widely used by television/documentary/CD-ROM/web site and DVD producers, and has been seen in dozens of presentations, including the Academy Award-nominated A Great Day In Harlem
and Ken Burn's documentary Jazz.
Mr. Cantor was a professional educator who taught all levels of school from kindergarten through college extension. He retired from teaching in 2011. He has written liner notes for jazz recordings and has assisted in their production. He is currently writing a book on Panoram SOUNDIES, which will be the definitive work on these "music videos" (juke box film shorts) of the 1940's. As a well-known authority on the subject of jazz on film Mr. Cantor is regularly contacted by filmmakers, television producers, newspersons and writers for information relating to jazz music and its documentation on film.