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Theo Croker

There's a real artistry to the way trumpeter Theo Croker presents himself. Oh, sure, he can slay on the horn, but with ever growing electronic effects, there's something more here. His releases have always had some futuristic bent to them, the latest of which with his group DVRKFUNK, Escape Velocity, keeps the angled dopeness flowing. It's a music of its time while certainly still being ahead of it. That's how artists work. They also tend to work with other artists, so Croker's playing with drummer Kassa Overall, who typically embodies dopeness, is also a good indicator of the fun, free, but still quite pointed sound that Croker projects. It's kind of weird but he's clearly thought about that. -Anthony Dean-Harris

Bio - Theo Croker plays on the razor-sharp edge, merging genres and idioms. He is a “rare American jazzman, who draws on the legacy of Fela Kuti, as much as that of Miles Davis.” (Wall Street Journal) Grandson of legendary trumpeter Doc Cheatham, Croker draws upon traditional fundamentals, then carries them forward. He “[personifies] the excitement of avant-garde jazz fusion... better than any other jazz trumpeter today.” (San Diego County News) Born in Leesburg, Florida, Theo first picked up a trumpet at 11, after a trip to New York to hear his grandfather play at Sweet Basil. The following year, at Cheatham’s funeral, young Theo played in tribute to the man who inspired him. At sixteen, Croker moved on his own to Jacksonville to attend the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts. After graduating, Croker attended the Oberlin Conservatory to follow in the footsteps of one of his musical heroes, Donald Byrd.  Croker’s post-graduate education was spent playing with revered greats Benny Powell, Jimmy and Tootie Heath, Billy Hart and Marcus Belgrave, among others. A Presser Music Foundation Grant awarded to him in 2006 gave Croker the financing for his first album, The Fundamentals. Boldly stepping outside the box, Theo moved to Shanghai, China in 2007, where he lived until 2014. While there, Croker held residence at “The House of Blues and Jazz” and the “Peace Hotel.” It was in Shanghai that Croker met legendary vocalist and producer, Dee Dee Bridgewater in October of 2009, during the Shanghai Jazz Festival, where he was playing in the big band that backed her. The two hit it off at an after-party jam and met for lunch during her next visit. By Summer 2010, they were in discussions about recording an album. "The first thing Dee Dee said was, 'We are not doing a jazz record,'" Croker says laughing. AfroPhysicist was the fruit of their collaboration. Featuring original compositions, Bridgewater on several tracks and a rare instance of Roy Hargrove on vocals, AfroPhysicist has made Theo Croker the hot topic within and beyond the jazz scene. In the words of Marcus Belgrave, “Theo Croker is one of the most promising and creative trumpeters on the horizon today.”

My Artists Sessions

Friday, April 28

10:00pm EDT