Jay Saunders

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Jay Saunders
Genres big band jazz
Occupations collegiate educator, big band trumpeter
Instruments trumpet
Associated acts Stan Kenton

Jay Saunders born 29 June 1944, is a trumpeter and music educator at the collegiate level. He is most known for being a lead trumpeter with big bands — including the Stan Kenton Orchestra (early seventies) — and a recording studio musician in the Dallas area. Saunders is currently on the faculty at the University of North Texas College of Music where he teaches jazz trumpet, jazz recordings, and directs the Two O'Clock Lab Band.


Originally from Sacramento, California, Saunders attended the University of North Texas College of Music from 1965 to 1968 where he studied trumpet with John Haynie. Saunders was a member of the One O'Clock Lab Band, served as an undergraduate teaching assistant in trumpet, and played two short tours with the Stan Kenton Orchestra. After earning a Bachelor of Music in 1968, Saunders played lead trumpet in the Studio Band(now called the "Jazz Ambassadors") of The United States Army Field Band in Washington, D.C., from 1968 to 1971. Upon discharge from the U.S. Army, he immediately rejoined the Kenton Orchestra in July 1971, eventually playing lead trumpet[1] until the fall of 1972. That fall, Saunders returned to the UNT College of Music to work on a his masters degree. While there, he served as a graduate assistant teacher of trumpet and lab bands until the summer of 1975. He earned a Master of Music Education in fall 1974.

His tenure with the Army Studio Band (1968–71) and Kenton (1971–1972) coincided closely with that of Ray Brown — a composer, arranger, trumpet player, and jazz educator, who, while with the Kenton Orchestra, held the jazz trumpet chair.

Applied music[edit]

Saunders played lead trumpet and toured with the Stan Kenton Orchestra and the Studio Band of The United States Army Field Band at Fort Meade, Maryland. Saunders played off and on with the Kenton band for many years and taught at Kenton clinics. He recorded eleven albums with Kenton and one album each with Ornette Coleman and Doc Severinsen as well as many religious, Latino and rock artists.

As a member of the Jerry Gray Orchestra at the Fairmont Hotel's Venetian Room, Saunders backed noted artists, including Sarah Vaughn, Billy Eckstine, Tony Bennett, and Ella Fitzgerald as well as hundreds of other well-established performers. He has been an educator/performer in the Dallas-Fort Worth area since the 1980s, performing with the Fort Worth and Dallas Symphony Orchestras as part of their Pops Series, playing first trumpet for the Dallas Summer Musicals, as well as a variety of recordings and shows in the area.

Saunders has been heard playing lead trumpet on broadcasts for the BBC, VOA, WABC, KABC, WNBC, WCBS and for the CNN/SI, CNN, HBO, ESPN Radio, Warner Bros. and Paramount TV themes, in addition to many other broadcasters in the United States. As an educator, Saunders has taught at Richland College, Tarrant County Community College, Texas Wesleyan University, Collin College, and the University of North Texas College of Music.

He also plays with Pete Petersen and The Collection Jazz Orchestra. "He has a reputation as being one of the best," said Petersen of Saunders. Petersen told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he had needed a trumpet player for the recording of Playing in the Park in the mid-'80s. Saunders continues to play with them.[2] The band went on to record two other albums.[3]


On January 27, 1968, Jay married Patricia Lynn Bode (b. 1946, Tom Green County, Texas), who, in 1968, earned a Bachelor of Music from the University of North Texas College of Music. Jay and Pat have a son, Stephen Kenton Saunders (b. 1972, Tom Green County, Texas).

Selected discography[edit]

As a trumpeter with the Stan Kenton Orchestra

Selections (Videos) from a Feb 6, 1972, live audience BBC recording (same band)
  1. Chiapas, by Hank Levy (1927–2001)
  2. A Little Minor Booze, by Willie Maiden (1928–1976)
  3. MacCarthur Park, by Jimmy Webb (1946– ), arranged by Dee Barton (1937–2001)
  4. The Peanut Vendor (El Manisero) — featuring the trumpet section, by Moises Simons (1889–1945), arranged by Pete Rugolo (1915– )
  5. Intermission Riff, by Ray Wetzel (1924–1951)
  • National Anthems Of The World, Creative World Inc. (2 LPs, quadraphonic), 1972
  • 7.5 on the Richter Scale, 1973
  • Street of Dreams, 1991
  • Live at Newport Jazz Festival, 1999

As a trumpeter with Pete Petersen & The Collection Jazz Orchestra

  • Playin' in the Park, 1989
  • Straight Ahead, 1990
  • Night & Day, 1996

With Doc Severinsen


  1. ^ Michael Sparke, Stan Kenton: This is an Orchestra, University of North Texas Press (2010)
  2. ^ Miller, Brandon A. "Pilot's jazz sideline takes off," Fort Worth Star-Telegram, July 23, 2001.
  3. ^ allmusic

External links[edit]