Antonio Underwood is well known for classical techniques, soulful delivery, and a new and improved approach to jazz music. He is a visionary when it comes to music education, and his three decades of struggle to research the influence of jazz music on cultures is proof of his legendary skills and craft.
Antonio is a valuable asset in the classical music community with over thirty years of experience in lecturing in the field of music and performance practice. His extensive knowledge and passion to contribute to classical music are supported by his long list of achievements. Antonio has been a member of the McCoy Tyner All-Star Big Band for over 20 years, the two-time winners of the prestigious Grammy Awards.
The multi-style composer initiated his first business venture before he even graduated from Yale, and opened his label Tone East Label LLC in 1994, after a project with Japan based Pony Canyon Records, in 1992. Today, Antonio’s excellence as a tuba expert and Jazz enthusiast distinguishes his production house from any other independent music label in the country.
As an African-American, Antonio was met with uncertainty and doubt as he expressed his desire to pursue solo classical music performance and education. Times were different. He couldn’t get classical management. So, he did what his heart desired and earned a degree in classical music majoring in Tuba. “I loved the sound of the tuba and wanted to record it. So, I developed an awareness of production and set out to record a unique approach to tuba and its musical landscape,” says Antonio.
While Antonio’s efforts to promote jazz music and build a jazz-positive culture in America are noteworthy, his work across the borders is also very impressive. As a Fulbright Scholar in Serbia in 2016, Antonio created meaningful workshops for classical students outside America.
Despite a significant difference in culture, economic system, and language barriers, his workshops swooned the students, teaching them to flow through the art of jazz and improvise along. Stirring so many emotions and reactions in a foreign country, his impact was felt by everyone who attended the workshops. Within two months the students were able to play, sing and enjoy classical forms of music – something that they weren’t aware of before. The program was so successful that the community developed The Serbia’s Children’s JazzFest, and now anxiously awaits to have Antonio back to implement his programming.
New York City jazz musician, singer, and composer, Antonio is currently raising funds to further develop workshops and camps in Bosnia, Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia.
Shedding light on his aims he says, “The goal is to continue exchanging knowledge of jazz music with the context of cultural, and socio-political aspects of life in the African-American community that created this art form.”
The fact is that there is no one better than Antonio himself to pursue this goal and make it a reality. He has what it takes to promote jazz music across the world, develop music practice in different environments and enable aspiring musicians to feel the swing.