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Tommy Smith


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.

Subsequent Spartacus releases include Evolution, featuring Smith’s all-star sextet with Joe Lovano, John Scofield, John Taylor, John Patitucci and Bill Stewart; two duo recordings with BBC Jazz Awards-winning pianist Brian Kellock; Miles Ahead with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and guest soloist, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen; Smith’s solo project Alone At Last; and Forbidden Fruit by Smith’s all-Scottish quartet.

Smith continues to maintain a hectic work schedule. In recent years he has toured his own group to India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, France, America, Turkey, Switzerland, Azerbaijan, Malta, Bratislava, Russia, Yemen and Romania as well as the UK.
In April 2001, he was invited to take part in televised concerts in Switzerland alongside Benny Golson, Vincent Herring, Carl Allen, Buster Williams, Victor Lewis, Buster Cooper, and Randy Brecker. Then, in July that year, he premiered his extended composition, Beauty and the Beast, written for saxophonist David Liebman and the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, and toured in a quintet with Liebman. This was immediately followed by his appearance as solo saxophonist in Sally Beamish’s The Knotgrass Elegy, which was commissioned by the BBC Proms and performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Other classical music endeavours have included the largest known work for the Edinburgh Youth Orchestra’s 40th anniversary. Written for saxophone, bass and drums plus a one hundred-strong symphony orchestra and entitled Edinburgh, this was premiered on April 12, 2003 in the Usher Hall, Edinburgh before touring Latvia, Estonia, Russia and Finland.

Recognising that Scotland was producing an outstanding crop of young jazz musicians, Smith formed the Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra in 2002, financing rehearsals and travelling expenses for teenage players from across the country out of his own pocket. The orchestra has performed at jazz festivals throughout Scotland and launched its first CD, Exploration, in Toronto, Canada in 2008.

In 2005, Smith reunited with Joe Locke, recording the album “Dear Life” (Sirocco) and touring extensively with the vibist’s group, and formed a duo with another long-time colleague, Norwegian bassist Arild Andersen, Adding drummer Paolo Vinaccia, this has since developed into one of Europe’s leading jazz trios, with a busy concert itinerary and a debut album, Live at Belleville (released on ECM Records in 2008), which received innumerable album of the year nominations in the press worldwide.

As well as two duo albums, Smith’s partnership with pianist Brian Kellock resulted in Smith creating an expanded jazz arrangement of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue for the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra with Kellock as the featured soloist. This was premiered to huge acclaim as the opening concert of Edinburgh Jazz Festival on Friday July 28, 2006, a recording of which was released in May 2009. Another saxophone and piano pairing, with Swede Jacob Karlzon, has featured at jazz festivals in Edinburgh, Islay and Fife to enthusiastic acclaim.

Categorized: Bio timeline