University of Rochester
Two of Scotland’s finest jazz artists, saxophonist Tommy Smith and pianist Pete Johnstone, have teamed up to bring audiences some of the most beautiful, haunting and iconic pieces in the jazz repertoire. Tommy’s prolific career began in earnest when, aged just 16, he recorded his first album. He rewarded with a scholarship to Berklee College of Music, an experience that has shaped his positive approach to jazz, which led to him joining Gary Burton’s Group age 18. Since then, he has cut 28 solo albums as a leader for Blue Note, Linn and his label, Spartacus Records, and was recently awarded an OBE from Queen Elizabeth II for services to jazz education in Scotland. Peter Johnstone, a former winner of the Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year and the Peter Whittingham Jazz Prize, is a young giant on the scene of jazz Tommy and Pete offer significant insights into the collective jazz memory, but the music (and the way they play it) admits the audience to something more profound – jazz as a shared experience by spinning classic songs into spontaneous jazz gold.
Tommy Smith (b.1967) is a leading light in European jazz, first and foremost as one of the finest saxophonists of his generation, and latterly as the founder and current director of The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra (SNJO). These career-defining achievements are framed by his status as an international recording artist; a composer and arranger of extraordinary ambition; and not least, as a jazz educator.
His prolific career began in earnest when, aged only sixteen, 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. Since then, he has made twenty-six solo albums as a leader for Blue Note, Linn and his own label Spartacus Records.
Smith has also earned the regard, support and friendship of the many respected jazz figures with whom he has collaborated and created great jazz. They include, but are not limited to, Gary Burton, Chick Corea, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny, Barron, Arild Andersen, John Scofield and Trilok Gurtu. His tenure with the SNJO has seen critically acclaimed performances and recordings of programmed and commissioned works including hugely popular treatments of Ellington, Gershwin, Weather Report and Miles Davis.
Tommy Smith is also founder/director of The Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra and is current Artistic Director of the first ever full-time jazz course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He also holds three honorary doctorates from Heriot-Watt, Glasgow Caledonian & Edinburgh Universities and a Professorship from the RCS. His latest album KARMA won him his seventh Scottish Jazz Award for album of the year in 2012.
Tommy Smith is a D’Addario Performing Artist and performs exclusively on Select Jazz reeds.
Pianist Peter Johnstone is a native of Glasgow whose prodigious talents have already brought him prominence in UK jazz circles. An intelligent and virtuosic improviser, Peter is in demand in the Scottish scene, known for playing with his own trio featuring bassist Brodie Jarvie and drummer John Lowrie, The Peter Johnstone Organ Quartet, collaborative quartet “Square One”, Ben McDonald’s “Animus Quartet”, The Brodie Jarvie Septet, The Paul Towndrow Organ Trio and The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra.
Peter is also an accomplished classical pianist, having completed a Masters Degree at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2016, and is currently working towards a doctorate in piano performance.
Peter’s talents have been nationally recognized, having won the BBC Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year in 2012, and in 2013 was chosen to be a Yamaha scholar.
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