Smooth & sultry, cool, yet definitely funky. These words best describe the hot new sound of R&B saxophonist, Tim Cunningham. Born in Lansing, Michigan, Tim first picked up the tenor saxophone at age 13, eventually adding to it both the alto and soprano. After graduating from Everett High School, Tim then went on to Michigan State University and was in the starting lineup at strong safety on a four year football scholarship with the Spartans. With still a year left to graduate, the Dallas Cowboys offered Tim a free agent contract, which he in turn declined, so that he could obtain his degree, and continue to work on his true passion- the saxophone.
Having played the sax for over half of his life, Tim has headlined in nightclubs, Las Vegas Casinos and festivals spanning the U.S. and the Caribbean. Tim appeared at the inaugural St. Lucia Jazz Festival in 1992 and received rave reviews from the crowd and local paper. He returned to St. Lucia in 2006. Tim also opened the Cincinnati Jazz festival for 6 straight years from 1994 to 1999. In 1998, music critic Larry Nager of the Cincinnati Inquirer reviewed the festival and stated, “Saxophonist Tim Cunningham opened the night in his fifth straight soul fest appearance. A soulful hard-edged player, he gave a 35-minute show that posed the question, how can somebody this good remain relatively unknown?”
Tim has opened for countless artists including Dave Koz, Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly, Brian Culbertson, George Benson, Norman Brown, Earth Wind & Fire, R. Kelly, Luther Vandross, The Temptations, The O’Jays, Cameo, Keith Sweat, The Yellow Jackets, Chick Corea, The Whispers, Wynton Marsalis, The Average White Band, Patti Labelle, Jeffery Osborne, Al Green and Boys II Men just to name a few.
In 1996, Tim was signed to Atlantic Records and worked with the talents of Will Downing, Brian Culbertson, Sonny Emory, Kevin Whalum and Bobby Lyle on his release, "RIGHT TURN ONLY." The feature track on the CD was “This Is The Life” which made the Smooth Jazz Chart at number 19 receiving national and international airplay.
Tim appeared on Ready For The World's "RUFF & READY" CD, and wrote/performed the theme to the 1992 talk show "THE BERTICE BERRY SHOW" along with co-writer Daron Steward. Being no stranger to television, Tim has been seen on BET'S "JAZZ CENTRAL", and in three appearances on the television series "THE UNTOUCHABLES".
Among Tim's earlier CD credits are, "SAX CHANGE OPERATION" (1990). "A CHANGE IN ALTOTUDE"(1992, RE-RELEASED 1999) and in 1996 "RIGHT TURN ONLY" which JAZZ TIMES Magazine said,"...stands out as a strong effort among the glut of R&B/pop-jazz efforts on the market." A review by BMG’s David Aaron states, “Amidst all of the talk about the new generation of young jazz musicians like Christian McBride and Joshua Redman, I think Tim Cunningham has been regrettably neglected. Up till now, this versatile sax player has been doing it on his own with two impressive self-released albums under his belt. On his first major label release, “Right Turn Only”, you can hear Cunningham’s love for R&B on “Friday Nite Fire” and “Can You Stop the Rain” and strong funk influences amidst “To The Macks” and the wah-pedaled-filled “T-2.”
Tim’s ‘Waiting for Love” CD received regular airplay across the country with most of the airtime coming from 106.5 in St. Louis. Tim's project, "INNER PEACE", was released in the summer of 2004 and features seven live recordings along with three new studio tracks. Tim will also be recording a contemporary gospel CD in the future.
In the summer of 2006, Tim performed at the Lansing Jazz Festival in front of an audience of 10,000 fans. This was undoubtedly one of Tim’s greatest performances. Many fans said this was absolutely the best show they had ever seen.
Bottom line- if Tim Cunningham ever comes your way... you need to catch his show... you won't be disappointed.