“Live” whether used as an adjective or verb, seems singularly apropos when it is applied to Teodross “Teo” Avery and his musical brilliance. Although unsung with an outstanding pedigree both professionally and academically, no other saxophonist presently active seems to come alive more buoyantly on stage or in a studio than Teo, which is the raison d’etre as to why so many superstars have relied on his incredible talents. While growing up in Oakland and the Bay Area of California, his parents exposed Teo to a wide range of music and influences including traditional African music, Soul, Rock, and Jazz. So enthralled did he become with the sound of jazz that after hearing Teo perform, the great Wynton Marsalis was compelled to purchase a saxophone for Teo. Fully energized and confident, Teo eventually won a full music scholarship at age 17 to the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. On full burner, Teo eagerly engaged in the positive academic environment of Berklee and soon found his groove. So much so that renowned A&R exec, Carl Griffin of GRP/Impulse Records, soon heard of this new cutting edge talent and eventually signed Teo at age 19, who stated, “I was so thoroughly impressed with his lyricism and writing talent, his force was so differently fresh”. From there, Teo launched off in 1994 with his first album In Other Words, which received five stars in USA Today and much more critical acclaims from various music publications. Astonishingly, Teo was not finished with Berklee and was now feverishly in demand for his talents with the rapturous likes of Aretha Franklin and Ramsey Lewis demanding his presence. He couldn’t say no, but amazingly and diligently balanced these demands and completed college while on the road in 1995. Fresh with his college degree under his arm and a slew of outstanding professional credits, Teo did what any other talented musician would do – tackle New York City. This he did with earnest and landed a performing role in the successful film Love Jones in 1995. Immediately after this, he launched his second album under the GRP/Impulse label, My Generation, in 1996. He also performed with the likes of Dee Dee Bridgewater, Roy Hargrove, Leela James, Roy Ayers, Mos Def, and the late great Betty Carter, among many other great musicians. It was at this high water mark that Lauryn Hill requested his presence to be a member of her successful world tour from 1998 to 1999. On the heel of this Teo was invited in 2000 to tour with the mega rock group Match Box Twenty. As a songwriter and producer, Teo has amassed a stunning number of credits to include the feature films Beauty Shop and Brown Sugar as well as the documentary The N Word (Tivo). He has also produced music for Amy Winehouse (Island Records) and Allen Anthony (Rocafella/Def Jam). His television performances include: VHI with Leela James (2005); Regis & Kelly with Leela James (2005); Essence Awards with Lauryn Hill (1999); Soul Train Awards with Lauryn Hill (1999); Source Awards with Lauryn Hill (1999); Saturday Night Live with Lauryn Hill (1998); MTV Awards with Lauryn Hill (1998); Billboard Awards with Lauryn Hill (1998): From a recording perspective, Teo has collaborated with on several successful award winning productions to include: Amy Winehouse – Frank (Island Records) 2004 Gold Record; G-Unit All Stars (Shady/Aftermath Records) 2004 3X Platinum; Joss Stone – Mind, Body, & Soul (EMI) 2004 2X Platinum; Talib Kweli – Quality (Rawkus Records) 2002 Gold Record; Talib Kweli – Reflection Eternal (Rawkus Records) 2000 Gold Record; Dee Dee Bridgewater – Dear Ella (Verve Records) 2X Grammy Winner 1997. Academically on a graduate level Teo holds a Masters degree from the prestigious Steinhardt School of Education at New York University. He is also the recipient of multiple awards to include: The Sony Innovator Award in 1992, The National Foundation for the Advancement of The Arts; the Clifford Brown/Stan Getz Fellowship and the NAACP ACT SO Award in 1991.
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