Having grown up with a beloved, legendary musician as his father, Tony Saunders not solely lived in a loving family, however was capable of meet and was mentored by an nearly unimaginable variety of well-known and influential musicians except for his family.
Tony’s dad was the late Merl Saunders, pianist and keyboardist extraordinaire who carried out for a few years with Jerry Garcia, along with a bunch of different luminaries corresponding to Johnny Mathis, Miles Davis, B.B. King, Mike Bloomfield, The Dinosaurs to call just a few.
Because the youthful Saunders, who hits the stage Saturday together with his personal band on the Empress Theatre in Vallejo recollects, he acquired certainly one of his very first piano classes from none apart from Herbie Hancock, and presents from a few of his dad’s many pals and contemporaries.
“Sly Stone really purchased me an organ after I was ten years previous,” stated Saunders. “He used to come back over for recommendation from my dad, when he had the ‘Sylvester Stewart Present’ on KSOL am. He noticed my curiosity in music, so he purchased me a miniature B3, it was nice!”
Tony himself grew right into a world-class musician through the years, at first enjoying bass together with his father and Garcia, amongst others, then collaborating with unimaginable checklist of names that features Ringo Starr, Dr. John, Mavis Staples and John Lee Hooker.
Saunders brings that unimaginable background to this weekend’s Golden Gate Jazz Pageant, the place he’ll be performing together with his personal band alongside Lao Tizer, Eric Marienthal, Chieli Minucci and Karen Briggs, among the most well-known names within the easy jazz world proper now.
The principle impetus behind the competition, which was initially imagined to happen final 12 months however was postponed as a consequence of COVID, shouldn’t be solely to carry collectively a stellar lineup of musicians to get pleasure from listening to, but in addition to boost cash for music training for native kids.
“Folks at all times helped me after I was younger, I met a whole lot of stars, I don’t have a type of tales the place individuals had been unhealthy to me,” stated Saunders. “I at all times need to assist youngsters.”
A number of native philanthropists and organizations are supporting the Golden Gate Jazz Pageant, together with former San Francisco 49er nice Ronnie Lott.
“Ronnie places his cash the place his mouth is, he’s certainly one of our sponsors, together with his group All Stars Serving to Children. The entire income go in the direction of serving to youngsters and preserving music in faculties,” stated Saunders, who additionally began a basis together with his dad that offers scholarships to piano gamers.
Along with his work elevating cash for charities through the years, Saunders, who was born and raised in San Francisco, coached highschool soccer and basketball in Marin County for a few years.
“We need to attempt to have as many youngsters — and adults — have pleased endings,” stated Saunders. “It’s only a fantastic factor.”
Whereas a lot of the main focus behind the scenes of the competition is the philanthropic facet, the extent of expertise, musicianship and total enjoyable and pleasure of the live performance can also be key to the occasion.
“You gained’t be dissatisfied; you’re going to listen to some nice music — Eric Marienthal is like the highest of the ladder!” stated Saunders. “You don’t get an excessive amount of hotter than that, I imply I’m excited simply to see him!”
A second weekend of the competition will happen in San Francisco on the Presidio Theater on July 22-24.