Saunders Quartet to play it up in Pierce Street concert

Theo Saunders (pictured above), pianist, director and composer, leads the group of experienced stage and studio musicians.
Theo Saunders (pictured above), pianist, director and composer, leads the group of experienced stage and studio musicians.

Mar. 1, 2010
By Darla Martin Tucker

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – ( A quartet of experienced musicians who have played with the world’s great performers will showcase their talents during a Pierce Street Jazz concert on March 3.

The Theo Saunders Quartet will kick it up at 7 p.m. at La Sierra University’s Alumni Center. The performance is part of the university’s on-going Pierce Street Jazz events. The center is located at 11500 Pierce St., Riverside. Admission is free. For more information call 951-785-2148, or e-mail A campus map is at

Drummer Tony Austin, saxophonist Chuck Manning and bassist Chris Conner will join Saunders, an acclaimed pianist, in providing an evening of toe-tapping jazz tunes.

Saunders has performed at many of the world’s most prestigious jazz festivals and concert halls with a wide range of distinguished artists including Freddie Hubbard, Carla Bley, David “Fathead” Newman, Barbara Morrison, Charles Lloyd, Claudio Roditi, Victor Brasil, Raul De Souza, Bobby Rodriguez, Gladys Knight, the Four Tops and many others.
He has directed music for opera productions and international musical theatre. Saunders also has numerous compositions to his credit as well as original scores for theatre, radio and multimedia production. Artists Franklin, Ray Armando, Benn Clatworthy, Bobby Matos, and Bruce Paulson have recorded his works.

As a drummer, Austin has worked more than 25 years with such music industry notables as Billy Higgins, Charles Lloyd, Erikah Badu, Salvador Santana, John Avila (Oingo Boingo), Banyan, Rob Wasserman, The Calling, the Monterey Jazz Festival All-Star Big Band, James Torme, and a number of producers and bands.  

Austin began honing his drumming skills at the International Percussion Academy at age seven, according to a biography.  He began playing in Los Angeles at age 15 with the jazz group, The Infinity Project. A meeting with the late legendary drummer Higgins resulted in a mentoring relationship and a career that has spanned the globe.  

Austin’s resume includes performances on a number of television shows including “Studio 60” (NBC), “E-Ring” (NBC), “One on One” (UPN/CW), “What I Like About You” (WB/CW) and “Rhythm and Jam” (NBC).

His awards include the 1996 Los Angeles Music Center “Spotlight Award” for Jazz Instrumental, marking the first time a drummer won the category.  He also earned a music degree from the California Institute of the Arts.  

Manning has collaborated with dozens of musicians and groups including the Los Angeles Jazz Quartet and Swiss multi-instrumentalist Isla Eckinger. He and his quartet recently promoted his new compact disc, “Notes from the Real” during a European tour.

Manning has shared stage and studio with a long roster of noted musicians including Azar Lawrence, Bill Cunliffe, Branford Marsalis, Freddie Gruber, Gary Foster, Henry Franklin, Horace Tapscott, Hubert Laws, Eckinger, and many others.

Bassist Conner began playing his instrument at age 15. He worked with noted flautist Moe Koffman and guitarist Ed Bickert among others. He eventually arrived on the Los Angeles music scene where he played with the Los Angeles Swing Savant group, the Hollis Gentry III Acoustic Quartet, Bruce Cameron’s Latin Jazz Ensemble and other acts, according to online biographies.

Conner is also an arranger and composer whose interpretation of “The Girl I Dream About” was featured on the Bobby Caldwell album entitled “Blue Condition.” He performed in the “Sound of Toronto Jazz” Concert Series as a member of Shox Johnson and the Toronto Jive Bombers. He formed his namesake Chris Conner Sextet in 1994, and began recording with the group.


PR Contact: Larry Becker
Executive Director of University Relations
La Sierra University
Riverside, California
951.785.2460 (voice)


  • Last update on  March 01, 2010