Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Saunders, Keith (Leo)

Saunders, Keith (Leo), piano, composer; b. Wilkes Barre, PA, 25 August 1960. He grew up in Los Angeles, CA His parents are Martin Saunders (b. 1/15/27 Brooklyn, NY) and Estelle Schwab (b. 9/30/32 Brooklyn, NY). His brother is David Saunders (b. 11/21/61). Keith is married to Debra Wagner Saunders (b. 3/6/59).

Saunders studied with Charlie Shoemake (1975-78) and Terry Trotter (1979-82). Saunders spent his formative years in Los Angeles where he studied with Charlie Shoemake and later, with Horace Silver. Keith worked extensively in L.A. with such well-known artists as Eddie Harris, Roy McCurdy, and Bill Watrous, as well as recording with Dick Berk's Jazz Adoption Agency, for which he was the arranger. Since moving to New York City in 1984, Keith has worked and/or recorded with a wide variety of musicians, including Richie Cole, Joe Lovano, Freddie Hubbard, Hank Crawford, and Lionel Hampton. In 1991, Keith became the leader of The HardBop Quintet, which had begun as a cooperative unit. As such, he has written and arranged music -- recorded by The HBQ -- for numerous television spots including promotions for VH1, ESPN, and Filene's Basement Department Stores. Keith is also the Musical Director for Manhattan Tap, the nationally acclaimed tap dance company.

Dick Berk: The Rare One (1982), Big Jake (1982); NY HardBop Quintet: The Clincer (1993), Rokermotion (1995), A Whisper Away (1997), A Mere Bag Of Shells (2000); Jerry Weldon: Midtown Blues (1995)

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