“I Romance The Bass Like I Romance Life”
Looking back over an incredible multi-faceted career that’s found him vibin’ with everyone from Eric Clapton and David Crosby to Les McCann, Joe Sample and Chaka Khan.
The sweet, infectious fusion of passion, sensuality and funk that’s defined and driven the two-time Emmy winning musician, composer, arranger, and producer’s life from the get-go reaches full throttle expression on "All About Love", his first album for BAJA/TSR Records. Celebrating a decade of hit making since his 2011 San Francisco Records debut titled “What else?” "Romancing The Bass", the dynamic, stylistically eclectic 14-track collection keeps Saunders on what he calls the “joyful ride of the smooth jazz rollercoaster,” creating a transcendent melodic and rhythmic flow with an all-star array of genre greats, including keyboardist/producer Gail Jhonson, guitarists Blake Aaron and Paul Jackson, Jr., keyboardist/producer Greg Manning, saxophonist Jazmin Ghent, and #1 Billboard artist Adam Hawley.
The success of "Sexy Somethin" led the Bay Area based Tony Saunders to meet and work with some of Southern California’s top musicians and artists –many of which he invited to join the musical love fest he was creating and recording. Among these are Blake Aaron, who adds his crackling, hard grooving guitar solo to “Highway 5”; Greg Manning, who produced, arranged, recorded, and mixed the vibrant, high octane and horn-fired “Celebrate You” and Adam Hawley, who co-wrote, produced, recorded, and mixed the wildly funky, blues-tinged slam “Summertime Love,” which is centered on the dual energy of Saunders and saxophonist Jazmin Ghent, and driven by the pocket groove of Mel Brown (bass), Eric Valentine (drums) and Ramon Yslas (percussion). The SoCal contingent also includes drummer Tony Moore, who appears on “Highway 5”, “Unlimited Access”, and the intimate, reflective ballad “Theme For Ellen,” dedicated as a prayer to the wife of Michael Parlett, who recorded and mixed the tracks on All About Love.
In addition to those tracks, Saunders keeps his lifelong passion for The Whispers soaring mightily onto the dance floor with his explosive disco meets smooth jazz romp through their 1979 #1 Dance and R&B smash “And The Beat Goes On.” Saxman Tom Politzer is featured on the balmy, buoyant “Fiesta” and the Bill Hampton penned old school rock-soul fusion joint “Push.” Saunders wraps the set with a hypnotic, yet jangly rhythm guitar filled seduction “All About Love.”
“I’ve done a lot of vocals on previous albums, but if you listen to this one, it’s all about the bass playing and the melodies,” says Saunders, “my belief and confidence in my melodic writing has grown tremendously over the years, and I better understand the role that I and my bass should play in a song. My goal was to create songs that were cool and hooky, and these were the 14 songs that were in me and that I felt excited about sharing right now.”
Saunders, the son of legendary Bay Area keyboardist Merl Saunders, counted Wynton Kelly and Jimmy Smith as his godparents, took his first musical lessons on piano from Herbie Hancock, received his first bass from John Fogerty’s brother Tom, and was given an organ by Sly Stone at age 10. He earned the first of his two Emmys at age 14 for collaborating with his dad on the PBS documentary “Soul Is” and by 17 was playing with Merl and Jerry Garcia on their collaborative projects. All these decades later, Saunders is still jazzed, inspired, and excited to learn from and collaborate with the great musicians that cross his path.
Saunders graduated from the prestigious Conservatory of Music in San Francisco as a piano major, but has focused on the bass throughout his career, drawing on the influences and encouragement of greats like James Jamison, Stanley Clarke, Chuck Rainey, and Jack Casady. After launching his career with Merl and Jerry Garcia, Saunders embarked on a diverse career that has found him playing and recording with a virtual who’s who of popular music and jazz – including Dave Liebman, Dr. John, Ringo Starr, Bo Diddley, Andre Crouch, Mavis Staples, John Lee Hooker, George Howard, Esther Phillips, and The Hawkins Family. In the smooth jazz realm, he has played with Jessy J, Nils, Paul Brown, Jeff Lorber, Jeff Ryan, Randy Crawford, and Harvey Mason. Over the years, he has scored films, corporate videos, TV shows and commercials and produced many artists out of his own studio, BJW Studio. He’s also written the music and has been musical director for stage musicals, including Rock Justice, which was co-written by Jefferson Starship’s Marty Balin. For more information visit tonysaunders.com
- Balcones Heights Jazz Festival - San Antonio, TX
- Yoshi’s – Oakland, CA
- Blue Note – Napa, CA
- Strand Theater – Lakeland, NJ
- Humphrey’s By the Bay - San Diego, CA
- Baked Potato - Universal City, CA
- Starlight Serenade at The Harmony Theater – Hollywood, CA
- Vianisi Winery - Sonoma, CA
- Bogies at Westlake Village - Los Angeles, CA
- Oakland Jazz Festival – Oakland, CA
- Stockton Jazz Festival – Stockton, CA
- North Tahoe Jazz Festival - Lake Tahoe, CA
- Great American Music Hall - San Francisco, CA