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.
"Musician Theo Saunders never fails to amaze and to satisfy his listeners with his pianism. His virtuosity at the keyboard, his creative programming and selection of players usually results in a superb evening of entertainment."
--Bob Agnew (L.A. Jazz Scene)
"...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)
*Intergeneration- The Theo Saunders Sextet (TSM Records)
*Theo Saunders Trio Live! with Jeff D'Angelo and Mark Ferber.(TSM Records)
*Three for All (Blue Chip Jazz) with Mike Stephans, Chris Symer.
*Sueblue (Discovery) with Charles Owens, John Heard, Dick Berk, Gary Barone, and Carl Burnett
*High Standards (Polydor) with Mike Stern, Steve Slagle, Victor Lewis and Harvey Swartz
*Live at Charlie O's (TSM) with Benn Clatworthy, Chris Colangelo and Jimmy Branly
*Living Time (Columbia) with George Russell & Bill Evans (co-leaders) with Tony Williams, Joe Henderson , Ron Carter, Snooky Young, Garnett Brown, Sam Rivers, Jimmy Guiffre, Stanley Clarke.
*Blues & Other Happy Moments with Barone Brothers (leaders with Tom Scott, Dick Spencer, John Heard, Shelly Manne, Alex Acuna.)
*The Two Quartets (Discovery) with Charles Owens and John Heard, Carl Burnett.
*Light Year (Inner City Records) with David Pritchard.
*Nuances (Gateway Records) with Hal Gordon and the Hollywood Jazz Quintet
*Jazz Antiqua (RCA Red Seal) with Frederic Hand and Jane Ira Bloom.
*Alive In LA (Catalyst) with Pat Britt, Henry Franklin, and Ron Jefferson.
*Let's Face The Music (BCM Records) with Benn Clatworthy, JimPaxon, and Christoph Luty.
*Free Association (Household Ink) with Headless Household, Dave Binney and Jeff Elliott.
*The Beautiful Never (JB Records) with John Burgess, Henry Franklin, and Willie Jones III.
*Bass Encounters (Resurgent Records) with Henry Franklin.
* Peligroso (Cubop Records) with Dave Pike.
*Mallet Hands (Cubop Records) with Ray Armando.
*The Music of Eric Von Essen Vol. 3 (Cryptogramophone Records).
*Noche (Sea Breeze Records) with Jerry Kalaf.
*Gertie, (Mainstem Records) Theo, Phil and Me-Benn Clatworthy.
*Carla Bley-Live in Montreal (DVD) .
*Acknowledgment (LifeForce Records) with Bobby Matos
*All God's Children (Skipper Productions) with Henry Franklin
*Two for the Road (Cougar Records) with the Estrada Brothers
*Charanga Chango (Lifeforce Records) with Bobby Matos
*'Tis the Season ( clethompson.com) with vocalist Cle Thompson
*Real Life Real Live Vol. 1 (Tea-Eye Music) with Tony Inzalaco
*Real Life Real Live Vol. 2 (Tea-Eye Music) with Tony Inzalaco
*If We Should Meet Again (SP Records) with Henry Franklin
*Gratitude (LifeForce Records) with Bobby Matos
*About Time! (Arabesque Records) with Eric J. Morones
*O, What a Beautiful Morning! (SP Records) with Henry Franklin
*I'm Glad I Thought About You (JimmerJazz) with Jimmer Bolden
*Have a cup with Richard Reid & Friends-Richard Reid (Roughhouse Productions)
* Unity-Bobby Matos Afro-Latin Septet (Life Force Records)
*Home Cookin-Henry Franklin (SP Records)
* Live at St. G-Father Norm Freeman
* Clatworthy Music-Benn Clatworthy (BCM 109)
* Home- Putter Smith Quintet (SP Records)
* Beautiful as the Moon- The Bobby Matos Afro-Latin Ensemble (Life Force Records)
*Soul of The World- The Henry Franklin Quartet with special guests (SP Records)
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
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 (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.