[Dixielandjazz] Tom Saunders

Stephen Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Mon Mar 15 15:08:41 PST 2004

Hi List mates:

Noted that Don Ingle and John Petters discussed listmate Tom Saunders
and the Wild Bill Davison connection. Tom probably knows more about WBD
than any man alive. I believe he toured for a while with a program
called "The Wild Bill Legacy".

Tom Saunders has been a leading force on the OKOM scene in the Detroit
MI, USA for 40+ years. He'll probably chastise me for posting this, but
here is a fairly recent bio. Note that he cut his first record with his
mentor Wild Bill Davison in 1965. (Jazzology).

He is a living legend.

Steve Barbone

Tommy Saunders was born in Detroit, MI on April 21, 1938. When he was
seven years old he "borrowed" his brother's comet and never gave it
back. At nine he was playing second comet in his brother's band; at
thirteen he had his own group, "The Six Saints of Dixieland".

When he graduated from Grosse Pointe High School he auditioned for and
was accepted by the U.S. Navy's School of Music and for the next three
and a half years played in an Admiral's band in the North Atlantic and
Mediterranean theaters of operation. Saunders left the navy in 1959, got
married and found a day job to pay the bills...but he never gave up
music, freelancing whenever he had the chance. In 1962 he was asked to
tour with the Pee Wee Hunt band, quit his job and has been a full-time
musician ever since. His band, the "Surfside Six", played in a
succession of Detroit area night clubs for the next twenty-two years ...
the Surfside Lounge; the Showboat; the Dearborn Town House and, finally,
the Presidential Inn (where the band played six nights a week).

Along the way he met Wild Bill Davison, the man who became his mentor
and who would have the biggest influence on his musical style, but there
were also other forces at work. Forces like Bobby Hackett, Bob Scobey
and Sidney DeParis. Forces that helped forge the unique style that
defines Saunders' music today.

That "style" is much in demand at festivals from Virginia to California.
Saunders has played the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Festival; the
Charleston Festival; the Ford/Montreaux Detroit Jazz Festival; the
Sacramento Jubilee, the Sweet & Hot Music Festival in Los Angeles, the
Great River Jazz Festival in LaCrosse, WI and many others. He has
appeared at the Central Illinois Jazz Festival every year since its
inception and has been the Musical Director of that popular event since
1994. He still leads the Wild Bill Davison Legacy Band, whenever they
get together and appears regularly with his own band, "The Detroit Jazz
All Stars" in the Michigan area.

Saunders is also well known in international jazz circles. He toured
Germany, Switzerland, Ireland and England with Wild Bill Davison; played
in Germany, Austria and Hungary with Peter Biihr's "Flat Foot Stompers";
did a "Salute to Matty Matlock" in Germany and has played for jazz fans
in both Hawaii and China.

Saunders has had a prolific recording career, cutting his first LP with
Wild Bill and the Surfside Six for Jazzology in 1965. Since then he has
recorded on his own label, Lorelei Records and may also be heard on the
Bountiful; Parkwood; Fat Cat Jazz, Arbors; Timeless (Holland) and Nagel
Heyer (Germany) labels. His most recent recording was for Nagel Heyer
and was recorded during a tribute concert for the great British
cornetist, Alex Welsh.

In May 2000 he was been chosen to be the Emperor for the prestigious
Sacramento Jubilee's millennium jazz festival.

The Tommy Saunders Midwest All-Stars features:

       Tommy Saunders, leader, cornet, and vocals
       Chuck Hedges, clarinet
       Jim Galloway, soprano saxophone
       Russ Phillips, trombone
       Eddie Higgins, piano
       Paul Keller, bass
       Ed Metz Jr., drums

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