Primary Instrument: Piano
Theo (Ted) Saunders, a native New Yorker, has lived in California since 1985, but his musical career remains international in scope. Saunders' musical odyssey has taken him to four continents and more than twenty countries. He has performed in many of the world's most prestigious jazz festivals, concert halls and night clubs, with distinguished jazz artists including: Freddie Hubbard, Carla Bley, Charles Lloyd, Bob Brookmeyer, Harold Land, Buddy Collette, Eddie Harris,Ted Curson, James Moody, Bobby Hutcherson, Teddy Edwards, Jack Dejohnette, Joe Lovano, Jimmy Garrison, Pharoah Sanders, Sonny Fortune, Slam Stewart, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims ,Reggie Workman, Curtis Fuller, Rashied Ali, Mike Stern, Benny Powell, Chris Conners, Morgana King, Roseanna Vitro, David Fathead Newman, J.R. Montrose, Brew Moore,Sonny Greenwich, John Klemmer, Mark Egan, Wilbur Ware, Jane Ira Bloom, Steve Khan, Henry Franklin, Azar Lawrence, Carl Burnett, Jack Wilkins, Steve Slagle, Dennis Irwin, Roy McCurdy, Eddie Gomez, Cecil McBee, Rick Laird, John Heard, Gene Perla, Al Grey, Barbara Morrison, Lanny Morgan, Horacee Arnold, Jerry Bergonzi, Harvey Wainapel, Herbie Lewis, Sal Marquez, Hadley Caliman, Putter Smith, Gary Foster, Beaver Harris, Alphonse Mouzon, Benn Clatworthy, Dick Berk, Richie Cole, Garnett Brown, Justo Almario, Mike Richmond, Bob Sheppard, Bennie Maupin, Dave Binney, Bobby Bradford, Frank Morgan, Harvie Swartz, Tierney Sutton, Judi Silvano, Roberta Gambarini, Chip White, Phil Grenadier, Tom Harrell, Rich Perry, Clifford Jarvis, Carl Allen, Phil Ranelin, Pat Britt, Tony Dumas, Steve Swallow, Victor Lewis, John Abercrombie, Joe Diorio, J.R. Mitchell, Calvin Hill, Charles Owens, Richard Reid, , Adam Rodgers, John B. Williams, Ed Neumeister, Terrell Stafford, Wycliffe Gordon, Larry Koonse, Darek Oles, Dave Stryker, Steve Marcus, Don Menza, Bill Watrous, Mon David
His diverse musical activities have included musical director for opera and dance productions, for cabaret singers, and international musical theatre. He has played with many well known Latin, R&B, and rock artists, including Claudio Roditi, Victor Brasil, Ray Mantilla, Willie Bobo, Bobby Matos, Raul De Souza, Ray Armando,Claudio Caribe, Guillerme Franco, Bobby Rodriguez, Gladys Knight, Four Tops, Elephants Memory, and is a former member (Piano) of the Jazz Tap Ensemble. He also has performed in collaboration with poet David Meltzer and assemblage artist George Herms.
As a composer, Theo has numerous jazz & rock compositions to his credit as well as original scores for dance, theatre, radio and multimedia production. His compositions have recently been recorded by Henry Franklin, Ray Armando, Benn Clatworthy, Bobby Matos, and Bruce Paulson. His biographical sketch appears, in People in Jazz- Jazz keyboard improvisors of the 19th and 20th centuries by Bill Lee.
...the real solid values of Saunders' writing, along with his playing, constitute the album's chief virtue. - Downbeat
A rhythm team composed of Theo (Ted) Saunders on piano...provided blistering support on the up-tempos, with exemplary solos. -Leonard Feather, LA Times
Pianist Saunders' powers of interpretation and invention are forces to be reckoned with; on an average night he's provocative, on a good night he's mind-bending. - Joseph Woodard, LA Times
Saunders provides shimmering backdrop and some sparkling lead efforts of his own. Saunders excites you with deliberate thematic development which builds to climatic resolution. - The Portland Journal
Theo Saunders has a talent for constructing elegant solos in which linear melodies melt seamlessly into rich, two-handed chords - Alexander Gelfand (Jazziz)
Pianist Theo saunders plays laudably in both jazz and Afro- Cuban styles and can mix them nicely. - Harvey Pekar (Jazziz)
Saunders plays with such unobstructed passion and pulse that he seems to become the blood pumping through this ensemble's veins- Cadence Magazine
But the high point for us is Theo Saunders again, fronting his own sextet. He's collected some exceptional players: tenor Chuck Manning and alto Zane Musa, his longtime trombonist David Dahlsten, and the powerful team of bassist Jeffrey Littleton and drummer Tony Austin. Saunders is an underrated composer; his pieces can be difficult, if beautiful, and are rhythnically complex, and his solos are always surprising. For some reason, we really dig his unpredictably right-on-the-money comping best of all........this just might be the recession busting gig of the week.-Brick Wahl (LA Weekly)
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