Saturday, February 13, 2010

Tom Saunders 1938 - 2010

(Photo by Richard Phillips)

The Detroit Jazz community mourns the passing of cornetist/trumpeter Tom Saunders who was not only an outstanding musician and entertainer, he also championed great live music for music lovers in Detroit and beyond.

From the Detroit Musicians Entertainment website:

Cornetist Tom Saunders has been the leading figure of Detroit's Dixieland scene for forty years. He played with many great musicians but his "hot/swing style" was a personal jazz sound with the strongest influence from Wild Bill Davison.

Tommy Saunders was born in Detroit, MI on April 21, 1938. When he was seven years old he "borrowed" his brother's cornet 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". He is one of the nations favorite musicians and he has displayed his great talent at jazz festivals all over the US & Europe. Wild Bill Davidson claimed him as his "illegitimate son", and some of the best of Wild Bill rubbed off on Tommy.

His style of playing was unique. He toured throughout the U.S. and Europe, took Dixieland sound to China and released albums on his own Lorelei label. Tom was honored as the 2002 Sacramento Jazz Jubilee Emperor. When not touring, Tom led his "Detroit Jazz All-Stars" in and around Detroit and appeared as the opening set of the Ford Detroit International Jazz Festival.

Fortunately you can hear the irresistible panache of Tom Saunders through recordings that are still available.

CD Universe carries the complete album as well of individual MP3 tracks from Call of the Wild, sessions recorded in April 0f 1995 with Tom leading the Wild Bill Davison Legacy Band.

PKO Records has two CDs featuring Tom's septet, both recorded in December of 2003 at the Firefly Club in Ann Arbor:

Tom Saunders' Midwest All Stars Live at the Firefly, and Tom Saunders' Midwest All Stars Live at the Firefly Volume 2.

Visitation will be Tuesday, February 16th from 1 - 9pm at the Charles Verheyden Funeral Home, 16300 Mack in Grosse Pointe Park on the corner of Outer Drive. Funeral services will be Wednesday at 1pm, also at Verheyden.

Mr. Saunders passed away Saturday morning at his home at the age of 71.


Peter Dudley said...

Tom's death is a loss for us all. In addition to being a fabulous musician, he was a very funny man. I loved his good-natured (?) jabs toward the "Banjos East" table at Marge's Bar over the years. I once mentioned to him that, unlike the other people at the table, I did NOT play banjo, I played bass guitar. Tom's reply: "That's worse!"

Anonymous said...

I was blessed with the opportunities to see and hear Tommy Saunders several times, mostly at the Manassas (VA) Jazz Festival in the 1980s. His music was infectuous, as was his wacky sense of humor! I'll bet he and Davison have turned Heaven upside down!! Enjoy Heaven, good friend! Say "hi" to Fat Cat for me!

johnie said...

Tommy was with my band in 1994 when we toured, played and recorded in Shanghai, China. He played, swung, like you wished all cornet players would. In my opinion, he was the best in what he did. He made you play at your best. That is the mark of a great musician. He will be missed but will always be on stage in some way whenever i perform. Thanks Tommy! Johnie Faren

jazzman said...

sorry to hear about Tom passing.I heard him years ago at the presental inn where he played their with his band and wild bill he was a great horn man although not a personal friend.when i would walk in the door if he was up on stage he would spot me and go into the old tune home when crickets call.will be missed. he will be up their playing with garbel and wild bill. Chris

Danny Masouris said...

I knew Tommy very well, i was his drummer for close to 20 yrs,i hadn't seen him in 28yrs but we talked on the phone every now & than.He wanted me too come to Marges bar the next time i was in town, now i wish had !!! i always thought of him as my big brother,he never knew that !! what a loss.

Phillip said...

Tom and I were in the Great Lakes Navy Band in 1958 under Warrent Officer Norris, we used to drive from Great Lakes to Toledo, Ohio to pick up my girlfriend and then take Tom home to Grosse Pointe, MI we had many fun days playing music together in the Navy and going on liberty together. We miss him very much and have enjoyed his music for many years. Bob Steele (Drummer)

Susan Stapleton said...

My Name is Susan Stapleton. I lived across the street from Tom and his family. He and his brother use to practice once in a while in our basement. I lived at 1157 Bedford Rd. Tom and his brother were part of the family. His mother Ann stood by them both and supported all their dreams. My heart goes out to his family.