Tommy Smith (b. 1967, Edinburgh) began his prolific career at the age of sixteen when he recorded his first album Giant Strides. He was rewarded with a scholarship to Berklee College of Music, an experience that has shaped his affirmative approach to jazz.
He has appeared as a leader and an artistic director on thirty recordings for Blue Note, Linn and his own label Spartacus Records. His most recent quartet recording, Embodying the Light (2017), is his critically acclaimed tribute to John Coltrane.
Tommy Smith has also performed and recorded with Gary Burton, Chick Corea, Kenny Wheeler, Arild Andersen, and many other influential figures in modern twentieth century jazz. Although he is primarily a jazz composer, noted for assertive pieces such as Torah, World of the Gods, Spirit of Light and Beauty and the Beast, Smith’s work has frequently taken him into other spheres.
His first pieces of classical music were Unirsi In Matrimonio in 1990, and Un Ecossais A Paris in 1991. He later collaborated with classical pianist Murray McLaughlin for Sonata No.1 – Hall of Mirrors and Sonata No.2 Dreaming with Open Eyes, both for saxophone and piano.
Smith’s saxophone concerto Hiroshima was premiered in 1998, followed by Sons and Daughters of Alba (2000) and the Edinburgh Suite (2002). In 2016, he released his symphonic work Modern Jacobite, recorded in Glasgow with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.
Praise for his earlier work alluded to, “mood pictures full of atmosphere and outbursts of drama” and “an expressive tone employed to haunting and thrilling effect”, while the reaction to Modern Jacobite recognized its “immense power and sublime beauty”.
Tommy Smith is founder/director of the SNJO and The Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra. He is also the Artistic Director of Jazz at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and recently received the 2017 Parliamentary Jazz Award for jazz education.