Trane Stories in Performance

Theo Saunders

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The music of John Coltrane with lyrics, poetry, and spoken word.

This CD is a recording of a live performance at The Mayme Clayton Library and Museum in Los Angeles, CA on 7/15/18. It is the music of John Coltrane with lyrics, poetry, and spoken word added. The group, Trane Stories, consists of Dwight Trible ( vocals, poetry, and spoken word ), Teodross Avery ( Tenor and Soprano Saxophone ), Theo Saunders ( Piano ), Henry Franklin ( Bass ), and Marvin "Smitty" Smith ( Drums ) and Special Guest, Azar Lawrence ( Tenor Saxophone ) on Afro Blue.

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Theo Saunders: Trane Stories "My music is the Spiritual expression of what I am: my faith, my knowledge, my being. When you begin to see the possibilities of music, you desire to do something really good for the people, to help humanity, to help humanity free itself from its hang ups. I want to speak to their souls." John Coltrane, quoted on Trane Stories A seasoned group of LA's finest, spearheaded by pianist, Theo Saunders, brings us a unique intimate portrait of saxophonist John Coltrane, just in time for the 92nd anniversary of his birth. But unlike other tribute/cover albums inspired by the influential saxophonist, Trane Stories skillfully incorporates carefully chosen key quotes from Coltrane based on published interviews, as well as Coltane related poems by Amiri Baraka and Quincy Troupe, and added lyrics. Of course, having vocalist supreme, Dwight Trible, delivering the lines and the lyrics deepens the link to the man himself. Trible's flawless interpretation and technique has delighted West Coast audiences for decades. On Trane Stories, Coltrane's "Dear Lord," and "Wise One" feature the lyrics he wrote for his gorgeous, "Living Water (Katalyst Entertainment, 2004). Throughout the Trane Stories session, Trible voices adventurous phrasing that is flexible and nuanced and intertwined in the melody. From Gunter Hampel to Benny Golson, with an extended stay with Steve Coleman, drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith supplies the drum work. Equally eclectic bass man, Henry "the Skipper" Franklin, sits in the solidly complex rhythm section. Franklin lists Roy Ayers, Don Cherry, Pharoah Saunders and Billy Higgins and others on his resume. Recorded live and on fire, the six tracks feature five familiar Coltrane compositions, and "Afro Blue" by Mongo Santamaria. "Dear Lord," opens the set, with drummer Smith juggling effortless polyrhythmic brush work, leaving bassist Franklin and Saunders space to work with impressionistic understatement. Obviously, in any Trane-based project, all ears are on the the horn player, and those ears are amply rewarded by Dr. Teodross Avery, who began his music career inspired by Coltrane's "Giant Steps." Trible delivers Saunders' lyrics on "The Promise," followed by Saunders' first solo, taking a variegated excursion around the changes, sometimes weaving melodic flow, sometimes staccato chording, followed by the round buttery tone of Avery's soprano bubbling over with ideas. On "Lonnie's Lament," after an eloquent solo bass intro, and Trible's wrenching delivery of Saunders' deeply spiritual lyrics, the singer torches/scorches lines by Amiri Baraka. Avery catches that fire and blows gasoline all over it. With no intention of missing out on the fun, Saunders unloads with the Franklin/Smith rhythm machine firing on all cylinders. For "Crescent," Avery strolls with the changes, pushing the edges before busting through. Saunders tumbles over the heated throb of Franklin and Smith, bouncing off-tempo while spinning harmonic webs. Franklin distills it all into a potent exposition, both athletic and effortless, a dextrous fluent flow, before handing the spotlight back to Trible. For anyone familiar with Trible's moving, heartfelt previously recorded performance of "Wise One," the take on the tune here is a jaw-dropper, a heart-breaker. He outgrows that elegant restraint and supersedes it with a volcanic palpable passion and naked urgency, his spiritual desire laid as bare as one finds in the raw fierce fervency of late Coltrane. Saunders paints with poise over the Spanish influenced changes. Deep listening informs Saunders' playing as accompanist, employing lightly impressionistic accents, counter points and octaves. "Afro Blue" builds from Trible's performance of Quincy Troupe's "Ode to John Coltrane," with spacious support by Smith and Franklin. Saunders kicks it into gear, and Trible intones Oscar Brown, Jr.'s lyrics. At first break, Saunders feverishly builds cities of melodic structures. Avery unleashes a rich-toned soprano torrent over the scorched earth rhythm section. And just when you think this dizzying embarrassment of riches has peaked, in strides the fat tenor of fellow Coltrane acolyte, Azar Lawrence. An alumni of both Miles Davis and McCoy Tyner bands, Lawrence boldly enters the maelstrom blowing a gale force wind with a big, rough tone. Pulling out all the stops, Trible improvises a call and response with Avery, leaving it ALL on the stage. Saunders & Co.'s ambitious audio documentary offers original glimpses into Coltrane and his legacy. It educates, entertains, and swings hard. Happily, the concert was recorded, mixed, and mastered by sound wizard Wayne Peet, with CD packaging adorned with portraits by photographer, Chuck Koton. More than a labor of love, Trane Stories is an act of devotion, to John Coltrane, to art, to a "Love Supreme." ” - Rex Butters

All About Jazz

Jassemblage

Theo Saunders

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Inspired by the art of assemblage artist George Herms, this music is a "Jassemblage" of some of the 20th century's iconic jazz compositions.

I first met internationally renowned assemblage and collage artist George Herms in 2010 and we began collaborating on a performance piece that was staged for three nights in 2011 at the Redcat Theatre in Los Angeles. It was titled "The Artists Life, a Jazz Opera". George has been a jazz fan for most of his adult life and a number of his works are dedicated to some of his favorite musicians - Monk, Trane, Miles and the like. He inspired me to write some "music assemblages" that reflected his work. This recording is an expansion of those original arrangements. I call it "Jassemblage". I've used many of the iconic jazz compositions from the last half of the 20th century and assembled them in a way so that, not only do the melodies, harmonies, and forms weave in and around each other but the improvisations are based on a combination of the chord changes from each song as well as the forms of each one. The band consists of a stellar group of Los Angeles musicians - George Bohanon on trombone, Chuck Manning on tenor sax, Louis Van Taylor on alto sax, Henry Franklin on bass, Kendall Kay on drums, myself (Theo Saunders) at the piano and special guest Sal Marquez on trumpet (track #3 - "Also What").

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Intergeneration

Theo Saunders with liner notes by poet David Meltzer

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A two- generation dynamic jazz sextet playing original compositions and unusual arrangements of standards in the styles Straight Ahead, New Orleans, Latin jazz, Afro, and EuroJazz.

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 , Steve Khan, Henry Franklin, Azar Lawrence, Carl Burnett, Jack Wilkins, Steve Slagle, Dennis Irwin, Roy McCurdy, Eddie Gomez, Cecil McBee, Rick Laird, John Heard, 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.

Major Festivals, Concert Halls and Clubs JVC Jazz Festival - NYC

Antibes Jazz Festival - Juan-Les-Pin, France

NOS Jazz Festival - Amsterdam

North Sea Jazz Festival - Den Hague, The Netherlands

Sarasota Springs Jazz Festival - Sarasota Springs

Montreal Jazz Festival, Montreal

Palais D"Europe - Le Touqet, France

Canada Jam II - Toronto, Canada

Montreaux Jazz Festival - Montreaux

Avery Fischer Hall - NYC

Carnegie Hall - NYC

Greek Theatre - Los Angeles

Riga Sports Palace - Latvia

Montmarte - Copenhagen

Metropol - Berlin

Village Vanguard - NYC

Sweet Basil - NYC

Ojai Jazz Festival - Ojai, CA

UCLA Jazz Festival

Santa Monica Jazz Festival

Santa Barbara Jazz Festival

Catalina's - Los Angeles

Jazz Bakery - Los Angeles

Sonoma Jazz Festival

San Jose Jazz Festival

New Haven Jazz Festival

Temecula Jazz Festival

Barranquilla Jazz Festival

Medellin Jazz Festival

Central Avenue Jazz Festival-Los Angeles

The World Stage - Los Angeles

Compositions

Musical Score for Waterside - Plexus Dance Theatre, Venture, CA.

Musical score for Vincent - A Passionate Journey Into The Life Of Van Gogh, a play by Leonard Nimoy.

Music for Chekhov Short Stories, a series for Public Radio.

Music for The Wood Demon, a Chekhov play produced by the Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles, CA.

Musical score for the Sequoia National Park Centennial Multimedia Presentation.

Original Music for Verse of Fortune, a musical theatre piece currently in development that is based on the life of Charles Baudelaire

Over One Hundred jazz & rock compositions.

Musical Director

Musical Director (MD) for the play Peace Child, produced in both the US & USSR.

MD for Trio, an opera by Noa Ain - performed at the Berkshire Music Festival; first American Music Theatre Festival, Philadelphia; and at Carnegie Hall.

MD for The Outcast, an opera by Noa Ain, performed at Merkin Hall, NYC, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Houston Grand Opera.

MD for Verse of Fortune by Christian Holder and Noa Ain-Musical Theater based on the life and poetry of Charles Baudelaire....currently in development.

MD for singer-actress Lanie Kazan.

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