Bassist and leader Henry Franklin’s Quintet includes Theo Saunders on piano, Curtis Taylor on trumpet, Marvin “Smitty” Smith on drums, and Big Black on hand drums and percussion. Henry Franklin affectionately known as “The Skipper” grew up in the heart of LA’s Central Avenue Jazz District. Influenced by his father who was a trumpeter and band leader Henry learned the clarinet, piano, tap dancing, and studied with classical bassists. He was mentored by bassists Al McKibbon, and George Morrow. Henry cites Paul Chambers and Doug Watkins as bass influences. Henry attended Manual Arts High School, and first played with the Roy Ayers Latin Jazz Quintet. Henry played with Bill Henderson, Carl Burnett, Elmo Jones, and was in the same company with Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Billy Higgins, and Scott Lafaro. Henry’s big heroes are Harold Land, and Hampton Hawes whom he toured and recorded 5 records with. Henry has played with Willie Bobo, Archie Shepp, Lamont Johnson, Beaver Harris, and Roswell Rudd. Henry played on the number one hit “Grazing in the Grass” with Hugh Masakela, and played on Stevie Wonders gold record “Secret Life of Plants”. Henry has performed with dozens of jazz greats including O.C. Smith, Gene Harris and the 3 Sounds, Freddie Hubbard, Bobbi Humphrey, Count Basie, Pharoh Sanders, Azar Lawrence, John Carter, Bobby Bradford, Dennis Gonzales, Joe Williams, Sonny Rollins, Bobby Hutcherson, Sonny Fortune, and Milt Jackson. Henry has recorded 29 albums as a leader, and played on over 100 in total of which many he produced. Henry was a mainstay performing at the Mission Inn in Riverside for 13 years, and has authored a method book for bassists entitled “Basically Yours”. Henry always strives and works hard to do his best for jazz, America’s only art form.
Russian born pianist Theo Saunders is a composer, arranger, and virtuoso pianist who was born in Manhattan. Influenced by his parents who were both actors Theo accompanied his mom on piano at many Broadway Show auditions. Theo attended Performing Arts High School, and got the jazz bug moving on to attend New York University. Theo performed there and in Boston, Montreal, Cincinnati, LA, and around New York City. Theo played with Jack De Johnette at the Village Van Guard, played on Bill Evans & George Russell’s album “Living Time”, played with Jerry Bergonzi’s “Conbrio” group, with John Klemmer, Ted Curson, Willie Bobo, Freddie Hubbard, Carla Bley, Bob Brookmeyer, Mike Stern, Sonny Fortune, Bobby Matos, and Azar Lawrence. Theo has directed 3 operas, various dance, cabaret, and theatre performances. Theo has collaborated with artists George Herms, poet David Meltzer, and the Jazz Tap Ensemble. Theo has toured five continents, played in over 25 countries with over 125 different musicians, and over 35 different jazz festivals, concert halls, and clubs. Theo plays Latin, R&B, rock, and jazz, and has recorded 8 CD’s as a leader/co-leader. Theo has played on over 40 recordings as a sideman. One of Theo’s favorite quotes by Van Gogh is “Ignore the obvious, and exaggerate the essential”. Theo approaches music with spontaneity, and taking chances. He plays what he hears, hears into the future as far ahead as possible so the future becomes the present, the past is created linking it to the future, in the present!
Grammy Award winning trumpeter Curtis Taylor plays with honesty that conveys truth and beauty. An Ohio native Curtis began the trumpet at age 10, and joined the school band where the band director took him to hear John Faddis, and Steve Enos. From here Curtis chose music as a career. He received his Bachelor’s Degree at Michigan State studying with Derek Gardner, Wess Anderson, and Rodney Whitaker. Curtis received his Master’s Degree at Rutgers University studying with Professor William Fielder who taught Wynton Marsalis, Terrance Blanchard, Sean Jones, and Terrell Stafford, all great trumpeters. Curtis has worked with Patrice Rushen, Billy Childs, Gary Novak, Bob Sheppard, Ed Motta, Winard Harper, Antonio Heart, and gospel performers Karen and Kiera Sheard, the Singletons, Cyrus Chestnut, and James Carter. Curtis has recorded on vocalist Gregory Porter’s 2 CD’s “Water”, and “Liquid Spirit” which won a Grammy for Best Jazz Vocals. Currently Curtis is based in San Diego where he is an educator, clinician, and lecturer.
Drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith at 3 years old began playing the drums under the drumming influence of his father. Raised in Illinois Marvin graduated from the Berklee College of Music, and began his career playing with jazz greats such as Jon Hendricks, John Hicks, Bobby Watson, Slide Hampton, Ray Brown, Frank Wess, Frank Foster, Ron Carter, Hank Jones, and the Art Farmer/Benny Golson Jazztet. Marvin has recorded on over 200 albums, and has 2 solo albums as a leader. Marvin has worked with Sting, Dave Holland, Sonny Rollins, Willie Nelson, Steve Coleman, George Shearing, the New York Jazz Quartet, and literally hundreds of jazz musicians. Marvin played on the Tonight Show Band for 15 seasons with Kevin Eubanks and Jay Leno. Marvin is the drummer for Harry Connicks’ TV show “Harry”, and has been a guest on the KLAC radio show “Loose Cannons”. Marvin has performed with over 25 different jazz groups, and is a composer, arranger, clinician, and conducts seminars and workshops. Marvin is on the staff of the Banff Center of Fine Arts in Canada, and the “Drummers Collective” in New York City. Marvin has been called the John Coltrane of the drums.
Big Black is a rhythmic master of hand drumming, he has been called the “Papa Joe Jones of hand drumming”. He is an actor, teacher, and jazz-afro conga drummer who has influenced music over the last 50 years. Big Black has played with Dizzy Gillespie, Randy Weston, B.B. King, Arturo Sandoval, Hugh Masakela, Phil Ranelin, Grace Kelly, Babatundi Olatunja, Freddie Hubbard, Ray Bryant, Sun Ra, Ernest Rangler, Tito Puente, Macheto, Harry Belafonte, Bill Cosby, Paul Butterfield, Mary Lou Williams, Cedar Walton, Charles Tolliver, Jimmy Heath, the Boston Pops, Calypso Eddy Pender, Lord Fish Ray, Johnny “Slick” Ingram, Lord Flea, John Handy, Gene Ammons, John Coltrane, Richie Havens, Oscar Peterson, Art Blakey, Mariam Makeba, Black Harold, Count Basie, Muddy Waters, Nina Simone, and many others. Big Black has recorded 11 albums as a leader, and has played in Africa, Brazil, Cuba, the Caribbean, the Monterey Jazz Festival, and gives workshops and seminars. He has acted in 15 films, and on 9 TV shows. Big Black plays a tuned hand drum that produces a distinguishing melody and harmony different from any other hand drummer.
Saturday April 1st at 7:00pm the Henry Franklin Quintet plays Pete Carlson’s. Five world-class musicians performing heartfelt music at the highest level. Don’t miss it!!!