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Tommy Smith - Iconic Jazz Saxophone

Sunday, 18 February 2024 - 3 pm

“One of the important voices in the tenor players of today.” – JACK DEJOHNETTE

Since he last played a solo concert in Crail Community Hall, Tommy Smith has taken his lustrous tenor saxophone sound into venues including Lichfield Cathedral, St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh and Dunfermline Abbey.

Smith’s solo saxophone concerts feature entirely acoustic performances of spontaneously chosen melodies drawn from the jazz, folk, classical, pop and praise song traditions and highlight his wonderful tone production and consummate improvising capabilities in an intimate conversation with the audience.

One of the world’s leading saxophonists, Smith has been a presence on the world jazz scene since his teenage years, when he toured internationally with vibes virtuoso Gary Burton’ Whiz Kids quintet. He has gone to record with the definitive jazz label, Blue Note and work with myriad jazz greats including Chick Corea, Jaco Pastorius, John Scofield, Randy Brecker and Jack DeJohnette.

Born in Edinburgh in 1967, Smith began his prolific career at 14 when his quartet won Best Band, and he received the Best Musician Trophy at the 1981 Edinburgh International Jazz Festival. A year later, he was invited to appear on the TV show, Jazz at the Gateway with Niels Henning Ørsted Petersen and Jon Christensen in the company of Michael Brecker; toured with the European Youth Jazz Orchestra and recorded his quintet for BBC Radio Scotland.

At 16, he released his first album, 'Giant Strides' and studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston with financial assistance from Sean Connery and his local community. He joined Gary Burton's quintet after a recommendation from Chick Corea, aged 18, toured worldwide, and recorded on Burton’s ECM album Whiz Kids.

Smith has recorded over thirty solo albums for Blue Note, Linn Records, ECM and his Spartacus Recordings label. He has toured 50-plus countries, composed over 300 works, and collaborated with musicians, poets, and visual artists, including Arild Andersen, John Scofield, Norman MacCaig, Alan Davie, Kenny Munro, Jaco Pastorius, Kenny Wheeler, Jack DeJohnette, Liz Lochhead, Christine de Luca, Trilok Gurtu, and Edwin Morgan with whom he developed a unique artistic relationship in 1996. He and Morgan went on to collaborate on 55 works of poetry and music.

Smith established the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra in 1995 and ensured its progress until support from the Scottish Arts Council arrived in 1998. He founded the Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra in 2002 to provide an educational opportunity for the country's best young jazz musicians and fought for over a decade to establish the first full-time jazz course in Scotland. In 2009 Smith was appointed Head of Jazz at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and became Professor in 2010.

Smith has been the recipient of various accolades including BBC, British, UK Parliamentary and Scottish Jazz Awards. His contributions to Jazz were recognised nationally when in, 1998, he became the youngest ever recipient of an honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in recognition of his extraordinary artistic achievement, aged 33. He subsequently received honorary doctorates from Glasgow Caledonian and Edinburgh Universities. In 2019, he was presented with an OBE for services to Jazz and Education from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

“Tommy has a unique sound and approach.” – CHICK COREA

“The most talented sax star to arrive on the world scene in years.” – GARY BURTON

“Tommy is an incredible writer and a great, great player.” – JOHN SCOFIELD

“A master class in individual virtuosity.” – DOWNBEAT MAGAZINE

“Smith really is a modern master of the tenor sax.” – LONDON JAZZ NEWS

“Haunting, beautiful stuff.” – JAZZWISE

Listen here:

Tickets £15

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