[Dixielandjazz] Legend - Tommy Saunders

Stephen Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Wed Mar 17 10:22:22 PST 2004

Tom & List mates:

No, knowing a lot about Wild Bill does not make Tom Saunders a legend.
Tom's legacy of HIS OWN playing makes him a legend. I've never met Tom,
however have heard him play many times since 1974. And I've talked about
him with loads of musos and fans who love his playing, his WBD
personality and him, from that time until the present.

In the middle of my 30 year "walk about" when I did not play at all. I
was working a day gig in the Automotive Parts Manufacturing Industry.
One of my pals in the industry in the 1970s was Chuck Schwalbe, VP of
Sales and Marketing for Champion Spark Plug Company in Toledo, OH, just
a few miles south of Detroit. He was a very good amateur drummer and
loved Dixieland.

The industry had lots of "business meetings" various resorts throughout
the US. (those were the days) Chuck and I, plus a lot of other misplaced
jazz musicians working automotive day gigs, would get together and seek
out jazz music in these exotic places, or have the "society bands" play
jazz. We would also exchange tapes of live performances we had made in
the past.

Chuck was a long time member of the Detroit Jazz Club. He had taped
performances there, and at various club dates in the Detroit area for
many years. He and I swapped tapes. Mine of various loft sessions in NYC
and his of a guy named Tom Saunders, and Art Hodes, Chuck Hirsch, Bob
Wilber and others. I treasured those tapes.

Fast forward to early 1990's when I was wood shedding to get my lip and
syncopation back, prior to retiring forming a band and playing
professionally again. Took out those tapes and played along with
Saunders, Wilber, Hodes, and the others to the point where I wore the
tapes out.

Wish I had the tapes now. The fiery playing of Mr. Saunders on those
tapes helped me get back to jazz and sexy senior citizenship. Yeah, Tom,
you are a legend, even though still comparatively "young".

Steve Barbone

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