Take Five With Daniel Ian Smith

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Meet Daniel Ian Smith: Daniel Ian Smith is a saxophonist/flutist and an Associate Professor at the esteemed Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, where he has taught for the past fifteen years. Daniel has had the privilege to perform in Japan, England, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Canada, and throughout the United States in major jazz festivals and venues including: Carnegie Hall, Newport Jazz Festival, The Pit Inn, Schlot, Ottawa International, JAZZUV in Mexico, Visiones, and many others.

Leader of the New World Jazz Composers Octet, the Big and Phat Jazz Orchestra, Daniel Ian Smith and a Collective Directive, artistic director of Jazz in the Sanctuary, independent jazz label Big and Phat Jazz Productions. I am currently a member of the Mark Walker's Rhythm of the America's octet, the Pablo Ablanedo Octet (fresh sound recording artist), Sergio Brandao and Manga Rosa, Fernando Brandao's Bohemia Carioca. Featured on over 20 recordings and am a guest artist and guest director/lecturer at the International JAZZUV Festival in Xalapa, Mexico. I currently endorse Alexander Superial Reeds.

Instrument(s):

Saxophones/flutes.

Teachers and/or influences?

Major teachers have included Jimmy Giuffre

Jimmy Giuffre
Jimmy Giuffre
1921 - 2008
clarinet
, Lee Konitz
Lee Konitz
Lee Konitz
b.1927
sax, alto
, Steve Brown
Steve Brown
Steve Brown
b.1890
, George Garzone
George Garzone
George Garzone
b.1950
sax, tenor
, Steven Mauk, Pamela Gearhart, Charlie Banacos, and Hal Crook. The music of Joe Henderson
Joe Henderson
Joe Henderson
1937 - 2001
sax, tenor
, Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
, Karel Husa, Chico Buarque, John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
, Thad Jones
Thad Jones
Thad Jones
1923 - 1986
trumpet
, Joyce Moreno, Ernesto Lecuona, and so many others that have touched and inspired me beyond words.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

I always had an interest and love for all things musical. When it was time for college I had a choice between playing music and playing football, (quite a disparate choice!). But, I really knew that music was it when I heard one of my most influential teachers, Pamela Gearhart, pick up a student's violin to demonstrate a passage during an orchestra rehearsal and it moved me to tears. I knew then how beautiful and vital music was and how much I wanted it to be a part of my life.

Your sound and approach to music:

A difficult question. Given the situation I mentioned above, I think making a sound with presence, personality and integrity is an essential ingredient in any player's sound. Think of all the greatest players, most people can identify the greatest players within a few notes. Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
, Joe Henderson
Joe Henderson
Joe Henderson
1937 - 2001
sax, tenor
, Lester Young
Lester Young
Lester Young
1909 - 1959
saxophone
, Isaac Stern, Vladimir Horowitz, Marshall Royal, Woody Shaw
Woody Shaw
Woody Shaw
1944 - 1989
trumpet
, Kenny Garrett
Kenny Garrett
Kenny Garrett
b.1960
sax, alto
, Steve Lacy
Steve Lacy
Steve Lacy
1934 - 2004
sax, soprano
. I could on and on. It's about personality. Music and life are parallels in my opinion. There is no art form that comes closer to imitating life than music. It's about honesty, integrity, community. I hope that is where my sound and approaches come from.

Your teaching approach:

I guess my approach or philosophy is about striking the balance between pedagogy and inspiration. This is a difficult endeavor at times. It's imperative to deal with basic musical elements and be clear in the delivery of that tacit information (Eb Major, II-V7-I, melodic development, three different fingerings for altissimo G on tenor, two of which don't work on alto! etc). A student needs to walk away from a class or lesson with information in hand. At the same time, we are all on a journey in our short lifetimes and I feel strongly that my role is also to shed light on the aesthetic and the importance of the journey itself. Inspire students to open doors they hadn't considered or have turned away from. I like to call music the "Tangible Intangible." It has elements that must be mastered but it also has a magic that must not be forgotten or taken for granted.

Your dream band:

My dream band. I like too many different genres and ensemble sizes to identify one but will try. Ideal "jazz quintet" would be: Steve Kuhn
Steve Kuhn
Steve Kuhn
b.1938
piano
(piano), Scott LaFaro
Scott LaFaro
Scott LaFaro
1936 - 1961
bass
(bass), Roy Haynes
Roy Haynes
Roy Haynes
b.1926
drums
(drums), Clark Terry
Clark Terry
Clark Terry
b.1920
trumpet
(trumpet), myself (saxophones). I would love to work with Kenny Barron
Kenny Barron
Kenny Barron
b.1943
piano
, he and Steve K are my two favorite contemporary piano players. Also, with Steve Swallow
Steve Swallow
Steve Swallow
b.1940
bass
and Carla Bley
Carla Bley
Carla Bley
b.1938
piano
's Big Band. I would love to play lead alto or baritone in the Vanguard band sometime. I'm a Brazilian music fan and would love to play with Joyce Moreno if Teco Cardoso needed a vacation! Maybe Hermeto Pascoal
Hermeto Pascoal
Hermeto Pascoal
b.1936
piano
will put a big band together again and will call.

Road story: Your best or worst experience:

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