Tommy Smith (saxophonist) - Into The Blue

Into The Blue

At eighteen and on the recommendation of Chick Corea, Smith joined Berklee vice president Gary Burton’s group, alongside bassist Steve Swallow, pianist Makoto Ozone and drummer Adam Nussbaum, touring the world, recording the Whiz Kids album for (ECM Records) and catching the attention of critics including Larry Kart of the Chicago Tribune who opined: “The key addition is Tommy Smith, who, if memory serves, is only the second saxophonist Gary Burton has employed in his twenty-odd years as a leader. Smith’s angular, bristling lines suggest he has his own story to tell.”

In 1989, Smith, still only twenty-two, signed to Blue Note Records. Recorded with producer Gary Burton’s guidance and featuring Smith leading a band composed of John Scofield (guitar), Eddie Gomez (Bass) and Jack DeJohnette (drums), his Blue Note debut, Step by Step.

Three further albums followed for Blue Note, Peeping Tom (1990), Standards (1991) and Paris (1992). During this period Smith also hosted a series of BBC TV specials called Jazz Types, in which he played with such guests as pianists Tommy Flanagan and Chick Corea, alto saxophonist Bobby Watson, bassist Arild Andersen, his old boss Gary Burton, pop/soul group Hue & Cry, and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

He recorded and toured with Hue & Cry, led by brothers Pat and Greg Kane, the American vibist Joe Locke, percussionist Trilok Gurtu and bassist Arild Andersen, among many others. In addition to his jazz-based commitments at this point, Smith also examined classical composition, leading to his first saxophone concerto, "Unirsi In Matrimonio", and a suite for saxophone and strings, "Un Ecossais A Paris". These works were followed by Sonata No. 1 – Hall of Mirrors, and Sonata No. 1 – Dreaming with Open Eyes, which is regularly played by the saxophonist Gerard McChrystal and virtuoso pianist Murray McLachlan.

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