Jay Saunders retired in 2016 as an Instructor in the Jazz Studies Division of the College of Music at the University of North Texas. He taught applied trumpet lessons to Jazz Studies majors, directed the One and Two O'clock Lab Bands, taught Introduction to Jazz Recordings. He has toured with the US Army Studio Band, Stan Kenton, and others. He is an active working professional in the DFW metroplex.
During his undergraduate years at North Texas from 1965 until graduating with a B.M. degree in 1968, Jay Saunders, lecturer, was a member of the One O'Clock Lab Band, an undergraduate teaching assistant in trumpet, and played two tours with the Stan Kenton Orchestra. After graduation, from 1968-1971, he played lead trumpet in the Studio Band of the U.S. Army Field Band in Washington D.C. Upon discharge from the Army, he immediately rejoined and toured with the Kenton band as lead trumpet until the fall of 1972. He returned to UNT as a graduate student serving as a graduate assistant in trumpet and lab bands until the summer of 1975, having earned his M.M.E. degree in fall 1974.
During the next five years he rejoined the Kenton band for short stints and taught at the Kenton clinics. He was a member of the Jerry Gray Orchestra in the Fairmont Hotel's Venetian Room, backing such performers as Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Billy Eckstine, Sarah Vaughn, and hundreds of other noted artists. Since the 1980s he has been a performer/educator in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, including playing first trumpet for the Dallas Summer Musicals; performing with the Dallas and Fort Worth Symphony Orchestras as part of their Pops Series; and for shows and recordings in the area. He has been heard as lead trumpet for broadcasts by CNN-Headline News, CNN, HBO, HBO Asia, The Golf Channel, ESPN radio, Warner Bros. and Paramount TV themes, for the BBC, VOA, WABC, KABC, WNBC, KNBC, WCBS and many other broadcasters in the United States. He has recorded eleven albums with Stan Kenton, one album each with Doc Severinsen and Ornette Coleman, and many rock, Latino and religious artists.