Theo Croker: Ace of Trumps
AAJ: What's the toughest part about this career you've chosen, or that's chosen you?
TC: Making money is, without a doubt, the hardest part. I could have been an astronaut, worked in finance, even a lawyer [laughs] or anything that requires me hustling. Which is also why I've had any success so far in music, because I will hustle. I'll hustle to get my music in. You've gotta be very persistent and I think you have to prove to the industry that you have integrity. People just don't sign you because they hear one thing and think it's great. You gotta play for years and years and show them that you haven't faltered, haven't changed, and that's how you get it. A lot of hard work and persistence.
AAJ: What is the legacy that you want to leave behind?
TC: Oh man, I'm so far from leaving a legacy [laughs]. I think I'm not even going to go for that one. You can just put, "He doesn't know."
AAJ: If you could go back in time, which musical era would you choose?
TC: Sixties and seventies.
AAJ: Who would you want to play with?
AAJ: What's one thing about you that people may not see at first glance?
TC: I think I've spent the first twenty four years of my life dealing with a lot of hardship, a lot of pain, and a lot of happiness, of course. My upbringing was wonderful, I had wonderful parents who were very supportive and intelligent. But I've learned many life lessons that people usually start learning at my age now. When I finally got out on my own, I'd already experienced a lot and I found it hard to relate to people my own age. But the things I've been through have made me who I am. It even makes me appear arrogant and cocky at times, but it also makes me not care how I appear. And that's really changed how I look at people now. It's forced me to look at people the way I want to be looked at, with a really open gaze. No assumptions.
AAJ: What does the future hold for you?
TC: I think my life is going another way now, and I'm getting to enjoy it, which is nice. I'm getting to travel, getting to live the way I want to live, even though I'm only twenty-four, It's important for me to live and eat and look and feel the way I want to look, feel, live and eat. Where that's going to take me I have no idea, I really don't. The things that come out of my music, out of my horn, are experiences that I've already had. As I get older, that process will just continue. It will never end.
Theo Croker, In The Tradition (Arbors Records, 2009)
Theo Croker, The Fundamentals (Left Sided Music, 2006)
Page 1, Rick Purcell
All others, courtesy of Theo Croker
This article was originally published in Urbanatomy Shanghai. Contact the author for more on Shanghai's jazz scene.)