Trumpeter, composer, and arranger Theo Croker is an adventurous musician whose adept skills find him at home playing standards, swinging post-bop, or more groove-oriented electric jazz. A native of Leesburg, Florida, Croker is the grandson of the late great jazz trumpeter Doc Cheatham. He began playing trumpet around age 11 after hearing Cheatham play in New York City, and by his teens was studying music at the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville, Florida. From 2003 to 2007, Croker attended the music conservatory at Oberlin College. While at Oberlin, he was mentored by legendary trumpeter and educator Donald Byrd. Also during this time, he earned the Presser Music Foundation Award, which funded his debut album, 2006’s Fundamentals. After graduating Oberlin, Croker relocated to China, where he took up residency at Shanghai’s House of Blues. His 2009 album, In the Tradition, paid tribute to Cheatham.
In 2013, Croker returned to the States and began work on his third solo album, the Dee Dee Bridgewater-produced Afro Physicist. Released in 2014 on OKeh Records, the album found him branching out stylistically, weaving elements of funk, Latin jazz, and hip-hop into his sound. In 2016, he delivered Escape Velocity, which found him delving deeper into a genre-bending, spiritually enlightened, funk-influenced jazz sound.