Tommy Smith

Tommy's journey

"Very Early" into "The Future"

Very Early

Tommy Smith’s special talent was obvious as soon as he appeared on the Edinburgh jazz scene in his early teens. He recorded his first album, Giant Strides, at the age of sixteen in 1983 with a trio featuring drummer John Rae, and that same year he won a scholarship, assisted by an extensive fund-raising programme organised by his music teacher, Jean Allison, to attend the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. (more…)

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Into the Blue

Indeed, and with this impressive opening chapter, the story was only beginning. In 1989, Smith, still only twenty-two, signed to the legendary Blue Note Records. Recorded with producer Gary Burton’s guidance and featuring Smith leading a band comprising jazz luminaries, John Scofield (guitar), Eddie Gomez (Bass) and Jack DeJohnette (drums), his Blue Note debut, Step by Step, catapulted Smith to the attention of an international audience. (more…)

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Out of the Blue

In 1993, Smith joined Scottish label Linn Records. Reminiscence (1993), Misty Morning and No Time (1994), Azure (recorded with Jon Christensen, Lars Danielsson and Kenny Wheeler in 1995), and the hugely ambitious Beasts of Scotland (1996) all received critical as well as audience acclaim. Writing in Playboy magazine, Neil Tesser noted of Beasts of Scotland that: “Smith’s artful writing makes the ensemble sound like a petite Philharmonic.” Reviewer Chris J Walker, in the Los Angeles Jazz magazine, remarked that Smith’s strong compositional talent “vividly conveys the aura of the various wildlife that his compositions are named for.” (more…)

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Alone at Last

Having premiered his 3rd Saxophone Concerto with the Orchestra of St. John Smith’s Square at Chelmsford Cathedral in May 1998, Smith went on to produce singer Jeff Leyton’s debut album with the City of London Philharmonic. Leyton, who is Smith’s uncle, also sang on Monte Cristo, the saxophonist’s commission for the combined forces of the Paragon Ensemble and his own Sextet, with text by Edwin Morgan. It was first performed at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, in September 1998. (more…)

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Spartacus

In September 2000, determined to take full control of his recorded output, Smith established his own recording company, Spartacus Records. The first album on the new label, also called Spartacus, was released in February 2001 and was made in New York to the highest technical as well as artistic standards, featuring Smith alongside top American musicians pianist Kenny Barron, bassist James Genus and drummer Clarence Penn. That was followed by Smith’s solo recording, Into Silence, recorded in Hamilton Mausoleum on October 30, 2001 and a recording by Smith’s quartet of ten specially arranged Christmas songs. (more…)

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Scottish National Jazz Orchestra

In a busy schedule of touring, writing and recording, Smith found the time and energy to launch the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra in 1995, and remains its director. SNJO has presented programmes of both repertory classics and more contemporary works, often specially commissioned. (more…)

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The Future

Tommy Smith remains full of creative ideas and continues to receive recognition – an Honory Doctorate of Letters from Caledonian University in Glasgow followed his BBC Jazz Awards’ Heart of Jazz award in 2008 and he was voted winner of the Best Woodwind title at the inaugural Scottish Jazz Awards in 2009. It is clear that he is going to continue creating music of lasting value. His journey across more than two decades packed with original and inspiring music has demonstrated conclusively that his is a singular musical voice, and one which has much still to say. (more…)

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Tommy Smith

Stages