Theo Croker ‘Star People Nation’

“...the indisputable product of Black American Music, of which jazz is mother of all wells.”
– AFROPUNK

“Croker has been playing his instrument in the jazz tradition since he was 11...Yet he’s been headed towards its edges for a while now…”
– AFROPUNK

“...contemporary textures which spring from the funk, soul and hip-hop branches of the jazz tree, rather than directly from the trunk.”
– AFROPUNK

“He has the tools, the intelligence, the ability and the talents. The future looks bright for Croker.”
– Wynton Marsalis

American born trumpeter/composer Theo Croker, is hailed as one the great promises of Black American Music (BAM). “Star People Nation” (his upcoming LP on Sony Masterworks) isn’t a sonic departure of his critically acclaimed release “Escape Velocity”, but a continuation towards a much grander musical legacy that is pushing within the realms of futuristic melody, rhythm, and vibratory enlightenment. “Star People Nation” is an experimental nativity taking listeners on a journey through a dark, cosmic, eloquent, yet masterful work to date. Serving as a sacred marker, from a visually motivated artist revealing an ability to gleam us with evolution beyond jazz familiar, “Star People Nation” is now in motion.

Theo Croker’s 2016 release Escape Velocity is ranked the #1 Jazz Album in the UK by Echoes Magazine. The accolades continue worldwide with iTunes (Global), The Observer (US) and others naming the album as one of the Top Jazz albums of 2016. With a global spotlight release on iTunes and Amazon, now over 1.5 million cumulative streams on Spotify, and nearly 1 million streams for the track “No Escape from Bliss” it is clear that listeners agree.

Upon the album’s release, The Wall Street Journal heralded the album as “ timeless and of-the-moment”. His live performances, the Huffington Post lauded Croker’s band DVRKFUNK, saying they were “a tight front line that weave in serpentine precision and are backed by a powerful rhythm section that pushes the groove.” Croker recently lent his inimitable talents as composer, arranger and musician to J. Cole’s latest release on title track “4 Your Eyez Only”, as well as “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “Ville Mentality”. He is also featured on Common’s newest album, “Black America Again.”

As the grandson of the late trumpeter Doc Cheatham, and former student of legendary jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd, trumpeter Theo Croker is an artist steeped in jazz tradition. Well-versed in the swing, bop, and modal styles of acoustic jazz, Croker’s own music reveals a love of organic funk, soul, and gooey, groove-oriented hip-hop. It’s a vital amalgam that would have pleased the forward-thinking Byrd, whose own ’70s funk-jazz albums are an obvious touchstone for Croker on his hypnotically enlightened 2016 effort Escape Velocity.

He championed this sound on his 2014 Dee Dee Bridgewater collaboration, Afro Physicist, and he pushes it to the limits on this follow-up. Taking the production reins from Bridgewater, who also appears here on the euphoric “Love from the Sun,” Croker has crafted a set of deeply spiritual, densely layered, yet beautifully uncluttered compositions that find him bringing his funky worldview into sharply illuminated focus. Croker details his point of view on the spacy opener “Raise Your Vibrations,” in which he delivers a spoken word poem saying, “Our divine earthly purpose is our own to fulfill.”

Helping to raise Croker’s musical vibrations is his ensemble, a group he’s played with for several years, featuring saxophonist Anthony Ware, keyboardist Michael King, guitarist Ben Eunson, bassist Eric Wheeler, and drummer Kassa Overall. Also adding color to the proceedings are guitarist Femi Temowo and saxophonist Irwin Hall. While Croker certainly divines inspiration from Byrd’s ’70s albums, there’s nothing retro about his own bass-and-drum-heavy sound. Cuts like the swirling “In Orbit” and the head-bobbing “This Could Be (For the Traveling Soul),” find Croker weaving in elements of shimmering electronica and subtle world music textures that feel more contemporary than old-school.

Other tracks, like the soaring “Transcend” and the organ-driven “Changes,” bring to mind no less than a feverish combination of the dramatically soulful ’70s work of saxophonist Gato Barbieri and the brightly hued ’90s acid-jazz of the Brand New Heavies. While Croker’s creative vision is a hybridized, cross-pollinated take on jazz, he remains at his core an exploratory improvisationalist. Cuts like the propulsive “Meditations” and the socially minded, Latin-tinged groover “We Can’t Breathe” (inspired by the 2014 choking death of Eric Garner), are long enough to allow for some edge-pushing solos from Croker and his band.

Ultimately, with Escape Velocity, Croker proves he’s got deep ideas about life, spirituality, and how music connects us all. It’s an ebullient, groove-conscious message perhaps best expressed on the bass-heavy “It’s Gonna Be Alright.” Trading the song’s title phrase back and forth like old friends high-fiving on the street, you can hear Croker and his band smiling.”

Walter Smith III

August 5, 2019 Newport Jazz Festival
Newport, RI, USA
August 25, 2019 Da Camera
Houston, TX, USA

Steve Lehman Trio // "The People I Love" US Tour

September 19, 2019 Kuumbwa Jazz Center
Santa Cruz, CA, USA
September 20, 2019 SFJAZZ Center
San Francisco, CA, USA
September 21, 2019 Constellation
Chicago, IL, USA
September 22, 2019 Bop Stop
Cleveland, OH, USA
September 24, 2019 – September 25, 2019 Jazz Standard
New York, NY, USA
September 26, 2019 Regatta Bar
Boston, MA, USA

The Jazz Gallery All-Stars

September 1, 2020 – October 18, 2020 AVAIL Worldwide

Tigran Hamasyan

April 30, 2020 Lawrence University
Appleton, WI, USA

Theo Croker 'Star People Nation'

September 14, 2019 Lodge Room
Los Angeles, CA, USA
September 16, 2019 Springfield Technical Community College
Springfield, MA, USA
September 20, 2019 – September 21, 2019 Blue LLama
Ann Arbor, MI, USA
September 23, 2019 Dizzy's Club (Big Brother Big Band)
New York, NY, USA
October 22, 2019 CBE
Cologne, Germany
October 27, 2019 Grillo Theater
Essen, Germany
November 1, 2019 The Loft, UCSD
San Diego, CA, USA

Gerald Clayton Quartet US Tour

September 23, 2019 – September 24, 2019 Lied Center (Solo)
Lawrence, KS, USA
September 27, 2019 Monterey Jazz Festival
Monterey, CA, USA
September 28, 2019 – September 29, 2019 Moss Theatre
Los Angeles, CA, USA
October 1, 2019 Musical Instrument Museum
Phoenix, AZ, USA
October 3, 2019 The Outpost
Albuquerque, NM, USA
October 4, 2019 Santa Fe Music Collective
Santa Fe, NM, USA
October 6, 2019 Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society
Half Moon Bay, CA, USA
October 7, 2019 University of Nevada
Reno, NV, USA
October 8, 2019 The Triple Door
Seattle, WA, USA
October 10, 2019 – October 13, 2019 Jazz Standard
New York, NY, USA
October 16, 2019 Blues Alley
Washington, DC, USA
October 19, 2019 The Factory at Franklin
Franklin, TN, USA
November 20, 2019 Herb Alpert Music Center (Solo)
Los Angeles, CA, USA

Buika

August 1, 2019 Patio Theater
Chicago, IL, USA
August 3, 2019 Newport Jazz Festival
Newport, RI, USA

JD Allen

January 25, 2020 Jefferson Center
Roanoke , VA, USA

New Orleans Jazz Orchestra

September 1, 2019 Detroit Jazz Festival
Detroit, MI, USA
December 13, 2019 – December 14, 2019 JALC with René Marie
New York, NY, USA

Marcus Lewis Big Band

September 3, 2019 Des Moines Jazz Festival
Des Moines, IA, USA

Camila Meza & The Nectar Orchestra

August 4, 2019 Newport Jazz Festival
Newport, RI, USA
September 14, 2019 Lake George Jazz Festival
Lake George, NY, USA
September 28, 2019 Tempe Arts Center
Tempe, AZ, USA
October 12, 2019 Mondriaan Jazz Festival
The Hague, Netherlands
November 8, 2019 SFJAZZ
San Francisco, CA, USA
November 11, 2019 Arcata Playhouse
Arcata, CA, USA
November 15, 2019 – November 16, 2019 Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts
Los Angeles, CA, USA

Marcus Strickland 'Twi-Life'

August 4, 2019 Newport Jazz Festival
Newport, RI, USA

Joel Ross 'Good Vibes' 'Kingmaker' Release Tour

August 3, 2019 Newport Jazz Festival
Newport, RI, USA
August 30, 2019 Chicago Jazz Festival
Chicago, IL, USA
September 13, 2019 White Plains Jazz Festival
White Plains, NY, USA
October 17, 2019 Kummbwa Jazz Center
Santa Cruz, CA, USA
October 18, 2019 Vashon Center for the Arts
Vashon, WA, USA
October 19, 2019 Earshot Jazz Festival
Seattle, WA, USA
October 20, 2019 Holocene
Portland, OR, USA
October 21, 2019 Brubeck Institute
Stockton, CA, USA
October 25, 2019 BRIC Jazz Festival
Brooklyn, NY, USA
November 21, 2019 Annenberg Center
Philadelphia, PA, USA
December 29, 2019 – January 1, 2020 Umbria Winter Jazz Festival
Umbria, Italy

Sullivan Fortner Trio

July 20, 2019 – July 21, 2019 Cola Jazz Camp
Columbia, SC, USA
July 28, 2019 Woods Hole Jazz (Solo Piano)
Falmouth, MA, USA
September 19, 2019 Temple University
Philadelphia, PA, USA
September 22, 2019 – September 23, 2019 Boise Jazz Society
Boise , ID, USA
October 1, 2019 Exuberance
Philadelphia, PA, USA
October 3, 2019 – October 6, 2019 Jazz Standard
New York, NY, USA
October 26, 2019 Clermont-Ferrand
Clarmont-Ferrand, France
November 18, 2019 – November 19, 2019 Paris Philharmonie
Paris, France
December 29, 2019 – January 1, 2020 Umbria Winter Residency
Umbria, Italy
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