Theodore Lee Croker (born July 18, 1985), is a jazz trumpeter, singer, and bandleader from Leesburg, Florida. The second son of William Henry Croker, a civil rights activist, high school principal and farmer, and Alicia Cheatham, a guidance counselor, and the grandson of Grammy Award winning trumpeter Doc Cheatham. Theo is a graduate of the Oberlin College Conservatory.
At sixteen Theo left home to attend The Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville, Florida, where his talent and drive attracted attention both in school and with local audiences. After seeing one of Theo’s solo performances, the director of the Ritz Theatre, a former black movie house transformed into a museum with a performance space, commissioned him to compose music for and lead a seventeen-piece band, eventually becoming the theater’s first Artist In Residence.
By the time he was ready for college Theo had his pick of the country’s finest music schools. Donald Byrd, the virtuoso jazz trumpeter, multi-Grammy Award winning composer, recording artist and pioneer in jazz education, inspired him to choose the Oberlin Conservatory in Oberlin, Ohio. While at Oberlin Theo studied with jazz legends like Gary Bartz, Robin Eubanks, Billy Hart, Wendell Logan, Marcus Belgrave, and Dan Wall. In the spring of 2006 Theo was awarded the prestigious Presser Music Foundation Award. He used the grant money to record his first album, The Fundamentals.
After college Theo began his postgraduate education hanging out and playing with older musicians like Benny Powell, Jimmy and Tootie Heath, Billy Hart, and Marcus Belgrave. His mentors have repeatedly praised Theo’s talent, drive and musicianship. Donald Byrd said, “There are good, great and nice musical players, but then there are phenomenal instrumentalists such as Theo. I would place Theo in a class of musicians who will redirect the flow, change and alter the current of today’s New Jazz.” According to Marcus Belgrave, “Theo Croker is one of the most promising and creative trumpeters on the horizon today and is also one of the most energetic artists I have ever encountered.” Wynton Marsalis stated that Theo “has the tools, the intelligence, the ability and the talents. The future looks bright for Croker."
In 2013 Theo returned to the United States after a seven-year stay in Shanghai, China where he broadened his concept of jazz to encompass other surprisingly complimentary genres such as salsa, fusion/rock, R&B, Hip Hop and Blues. While in Shanghai Theo held a five-month residency at Shanghai’s House of Blues Soon after that he was hired as the house band for Asia Uncut Star Network, a late-night television show modeled on the Tonight Show–where Theo served as music director, bandleader and in-house composer until mid-2010
That same year Theo met and performed for the first time with vocal icon Dee Dee Bridgewater.[better source needed] Over the next two years Ms. Bridgewater and Theo kept in touch, exchanging musical ideas. In July 2010 Theo became the first Artist in Residence at Shanghai’s famous Peace Hotel Jazz Bar, the oldest and longest running music club in China. Both the Jazz Bar and the hotel, now the Fairmont Peace Hotel, date back to the 1920s when it was known as the Cathay Hotel. According to one popular travel blogger, “I have never been a big fan of jazz, but the Theo Crocker Quarter just might have made a convert out of me. I would definitely enjoy spending another evening soaking up their cool vibes. These guys totally rock.”
In April 2011 Dee Dee Bridgewater solidified her professional relationship with Theo when she signed him to her label DDB Records. The next month they began production in New York City on the album AfroPhysicist, which was based on the musical concepts Theo developed with his bands The Theo Croker Sextet and the Afrosonic Orchestra & Collective. The album includes musical contributions from Stefon Harris, Roy Hargrove, Karriem Riggins, Dave Gilmore, and Dee Dee Bridgewater and was released on April 18, 2014 in Europe and a month later in the US on DDB Records (OKeh/Sony Masterwork ). On August 4, 2014 the album hit #2 on the US radio charts.
Copyright-Left Sided Music (837101279611) Record Label: Left Sided Music with Stantwan Kendrick-alto saxophone, Andre Murchison-trombone, Sullivan Fortner-piano, Chris Mees-bass, Ulysses "Bim" Owens-drums
- INTERLUDE 1
- INTERLUDE 3
- THE MIDDLE PASSAGE
- WITH YOU
- THE FUNDAMENTALS
- INTERLUDE 3
- LEFT SIDED
In The Tradition 
- BLACK AND BLUE
- IT DON'T MEAN A THING (IF IT AIN'T GOT THAT SWING)
- SHE'S FUNNY THAT WAY
- GEE BABY, AIN'T I GOOD TO YOU
- STRUTTIN'WITH THE BBQ
- YOU'RE BLASE
- NEW ORLEANS
- I GOTTA SING THE BLUES
- ST. LOUIS BLUES
- I COVER THE WATERFRONT
- BOURBON STREET PARADE
- LITTLE THINGS THAT MEAN SO MUCH
Copyright-DDB Records. Distributed by OKeh/Sony Masterworks. Album releasing April 22, 2014 internationally and May 20, 2014 in the US. Produced by Jazz legend, Dee Dee Bridgewater, "AfroPhysicist" features Croker's original compositions, as well as reimagined arrangements of tracks by Stevie Wonder and others. Guest artists include, Roy Hargrove on vocals, Stefon Harris, David Gilmore, Luisito Quintero and more.
Executive Produced by DDB Records' Tulani Bridgewater-Kowalski (LA, CA). Recorded at Avatar Studios (NY, NY), mixed at Muse Studios (LA, CA) by renowned engineer Jean-Marie Horvat and mastered by world-class Doug Sax at the Mastering Lab (Ojai, CA). Photography by Thomas Brodin. Album Artwork by Jean-Luc Barilla.
- ALAPA (FOR DOC)
- IT'S NOT YOU IT'S ME (BUT YOU DIDN'T HELP)
- LIGHT SKINNED BEAUTY
- WANTING YOUR LOVE
- SAVE YOUR LOVE FOR ME (FEAT. DEE DEE BRIDGEWATER)
- VISIONS (FEAT. STEFON HARRIS)
- THE FUNDAMENTALS
- ROY ALLAN (FEAT. ROY HARGROVE)
- MOODY'S MOOD FOR LOVE (FEAT. DEE DEE BRIDGEWATER)
- I CAN'T HELP IT (FEAT. DEE DEE BRIDGEWATER)
- BO MASEKELA
- Dee Dee Bridgewater
- Theo Croker Official Site
- Arbors Records
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