Theo Croker

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Theo Croker
Theo Croker by Bryant Norman.jpg
Background information
Birth nameTheodore Lee Croker
  • Trumpeter
  • composer
  • bandleader
  • producer
  • Trumpet
  • vocals
  • piano
  • drum machine
  • flugel horn
  • synths
  • keys
Years active2000–present
Associated acts

Theodore Lee Croker (July 18, 1985) is an American jazz trumpeter, composer, arranger and vocalist. Born in Leesburg, Florida, Croker is a three-time Echo Award nominee, as well as a Theodore Presser Award recipient.

Croker has released five studio albums —Fundamentals (2006), In the Tradition (2009), Afro Physicist (2014), Escape Velocity (2016) and Star People Nation (2019). He has also been featured on J. Cole’s 4 Your Eyez Only (2016) and Common’s Black America Again [1](2016) and Ari Lennox's debut album Shea Butter Baby [2](2019).

Early life[edit]

Croker was born July 18, 1985, he is a jazz trumpeter, composer, and bandleader from Leesburg, Florida. Theo is 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.[3]

Croker is a graduate of the Oberlin College Conservatory.[4]


2007–13: Asia, music[edit]

In 2013 Croker returned to the United States after a seven-year stay in Shanghai, China, where he broadened his concept of jazz to encompass other complementary genres such as salsa, fusion-rock, R&B, hip-hop and blues. While in Shanghai, he held a five-month residency at Shanghai's House of Blues.[5] 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.[6]

That same year Croker met and performed for the first time with vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater. Over the next two years, Bridgewater and Croker kept in touch, exchanging musical ideas. In July 2010 Croker became the first artist in residence at Shanghai's Peace Hotel Jazz Bar, the oldest and longest-running music club in China.[7] 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.

2016–19: The Messenger, Star People Nation album[8][edit]

On March 1 the first single off of the Star People Nation album was released, which paid homage to legendary Jazz musician Elvin Jones, titled "The Messenger" featuring guest pianist ELEW. Croker states in an article from Earmilk, “How we swing our quarter note is the basis of all black music. It’s the beat, and this song was made to reflect the power in that swing.” The Messenger was arranged and recorded in Brooklyn, New York. Mixed and Mastered by Grammy Award winning engineer, producer, and arranger Bob Power. On April 11 Theo's second lead single was premiered by Afropunk. The track is titled "Understand Yourself" featuring Jamaican reggae artist Chronixx.[9] Qwest Tv by Quincy Jones interviewed the composer about Star People Nation, which released on May 17. A music review by Floriane Esnault from Qwest Tv stated, contrary to the political accents that are perhaps contained within the title Star People Nation, Theo Croker refuses to enter into this easy “hype” that he sees many musicians devoting themselves to according to. Theo then responded by saying, “I know that many people use jazz to spice up their music, politically, but don’t give back to it because they don’t learn it and don’t respect the masters or their ancestors.”[10]

2019: Das Feierabendhaus der BASF, Orchestra debut[11][edit]

Earlier 2019 China Moses and Theo Croker, along with the DVRK Funk band double headlined in Ludwigshafen, Germany at the Das Feierabendhaus der BASF. This time, Fawzi Haimor conducted.

Personal life[edit]

Theo Croker is based in Los Angeles. He's a self proclaimed environmentalist, plant-based food advocate, and a practitioner of transcendental meditation/yoga.


Year Title Format Record Label Genre
2006 The Fundamentals Album Left Sided Jazz
2009 In the Tradition Album Arbors Jazz
2014 AfroPhysicist Album DDB Records, Sony Masterworks, Okeh Records Jazz, Experimental
2015 DVRKFUNK EP DDB Records, Sony Masterworks, Okeh Records Jazz, Experimental, Pop
2016 Escape Velocity Album DDB Records, Sony Masterworks, Okeh Records Jazz, Experimental, Pop
2019 Star People Nation Album DDB Records, Sony Masterworks, Okeh Records Jazz, Experimental, Pop


  1. ^ "Black America Again", Wikipedia, April 19, 2019, retrieved May 22, 2019
  2. ^ "Shea Butter Baby", Wikipedia, May 21, 2019, retrieved May 22, 2019
  3. ^ "JAZZ A film by Ken Burns – PBS". Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  4. ^ "Oberlin Alumni Magazine :: Winter 2005–06". Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  5. ^ Jazz, All About. "Theo Croker Quintet at House of Blues & Jazz in Shanghai". Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  6. ^ "Jazz Theocracy: Theo Croker – Talk Magazine – The Authority on Shanghai Life". Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  7. ^ "The Jazz Bar". Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  8. ^ Cr, Evan; ell (March 1, 2019). "Theo Croker honors Elvin Jones with new single "The Messenger" [Premiere]". EARMILK. Retrieved April 10, 2019.
  9. ^ "PREMIERE: THEO CROKER & CHRONIXX, "UNDERSTAND YOURSELF"". AFROPUNK. April 11, 2019. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  10. ^ "Qwest Tv by Quincy Jones".
  11. ^ "Cooler Jazz und heiße Disco-Nummern". (in German). Retrieved April 10, 2019.

External links[edit]