SAN DIEGO–The SDSU School of Music and Dance presents the acclaimed SDSU Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Bill Yeager, with special guest Carl Saunders, trumpet, on April 14 in Smith Recital Hall.
Carl Saunders is known among trumpet players for his ability to make the seemingly impossible not only possible, but easy and musical. Whenever he plays in concert, Carl invariably receives standing ovations from audiences moved by his ability to get inside a song and make it sing in ways it never has before.
Saunders has long been one of the top jazz soloists based in Los Angeles. Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, Saunders’ first five years were spent on the road. His uncle, trumpeter-bandleader Bobby Sherwood, was playing with the popular Sherwood Orchestra, and Saunders’ mother Gail sang for the Sherwood Orchestra and Stan Kenton, among others. When Saunders was five, he and his mother settled in Los Angeles, living with his aunt and her husband, tenor-saxophonist Dave Pell. That’s when Saunders heard the records of the Dave Pell Octet and was influenced by the style and phrasing of trumpeter Don Fagerquist.
He began playing trumpet in the seventh grade, mostly learning to play by ear and never having any lessons. He played in school bands, and joined Stan Kenton’s Orchestra when he was 18. For 20 years played with countless Las Vegas show bands, including Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennet, and Frank Sinatra. He traveled as a lead player with Paul Anka and Robert Goulet, and with bandleaders Si Zentner, Harry James, Maynard Ferguson, Benny Goodman and Charlie Barnet.
In 1984, Saunders moved to Los Angeles where he now plays trumpet with Bill Holman’s Orchestra. In 1994 he became a member of of the Dave Pell Octet. He also heads his own groups, the Carl Saunders Be Bop Big Band sextet and quartet. When asked to define jazz, Saunders says, “It’s a combination of intellectual funk and hypnotic swinging.”
The SDSU Jazz Studies Program has long been one of the premier jazz studies programs in the United States and regularly attracts the finest talent from the U.S. and abroad. The program offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in jazz studies and is committed to turning out students who are competent, passionate, highly motivated and willing to take risks. From education to research, from performance to composition, students can create strong individual profiles to enhance their musical development. Through immersion in an environment of rigorous teaching, open inquiry, and deep exploration, students are encouraged to create works, performances, and ideas that have yet to be imagined.
Performances are 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. The concerts are open to the public, and tickets are available for $10 and $15 at music.sdsu.edu.