Tommy Smith

Tommy Smith

Instrument: Saxophone, tenor | Location: Edinburgh

Smith’s soloing… is superb, never more so than in a stunning, utterly solo rendering of Solitude. ★★★★★

Updated: September 3, 2021

Born: April 27, 1967

Smith grew up in the housing schemes and began his prolific career at 14 when his quartet won Best Band, and he received Best Musician Trophy at the 1981 Edinburgh Jazz Festival. A year later, he was invited to appear on the TV show 'Jazz at the Gateway' with Niels Henning Ørsted Petersen and Jon Christensen; toured with the European Youth Jazz Orchestra, and recorded his quintet for BBC Radio. At 16, he released his first two albums, Giant Strides and Taking Off! and studied at Berklee with financial assistance from Sean Connery. He joined Gary Burton's quintet after a recommendation from Chick Corea at 18, toured worldwide, and recorded on ECM's album Whiz Kids. Smith has documented over thirty solo albums for Blue Note, Linn, ECM and his own Spartacus Record label; toured 50+ countries, composed over 300 works, and collaborated with musicians, poets, and visual artists, including Arild Andersen, Scofield, MacCaig, Alan Davie, Kenny Munro, Jaco, Wheeler, DeJohnette, Liz Lochhead, Christine de Luca, Trilok, and poet Edwin Morgan who he developed a unique artistic relationship in 1996 collaborating on 55 works of poetry and music. In 1995 he established the SNJO and ensured its progress until funding began in 1998. He founded the TSYJO in 2002 to provide an educational opportunity for the country's best young jazz musicians and fought to establish the first full- time jazz course in Scotland

Read more


All About Jazz Articles

Extended Analysis
Album Review
Read more articles
JOHN SCOFIELD “Tommy is an incredible writer and a great, great player.”

GARY BURTON “Tommy Smith, the most talented tenor sax star to arrive on the world scene in years.”

CHICK COREA “Tommy has a unique sound and approach. I like it from when I first heard him play as a student at Berklee.”

DAVID LIEBMAN “Tommy Smith is one of the best musicians around.”

JACK DeJOHNETTE “One of the important voices in the young tenor players of today.”


LOS ANGELES TIMES “Smith’s soloing… is superb, never more so than in a stunning, utterly solo rendering of Solitude.”


PLAYBOY MAGAZINE “Smith’s artful writing makes the band sound like a petite philharmonic.”


JAZZWISE “It is quite possibly his finest recording yet.”

OBSERVER Jazz CD of the week “An auspicious first release by Smith's own label”

MOJO “Scottish saxophonist/composer’s 24th album, one of his best.”

BIRMINGHAM POST “Since Stan Getz died, Smith must be one of the chief contenders for most beautiful saxophone sound in the world.”

INDEPENDENT “Smith comes across as a true star, inhabiting the sound of his saxophone in a way very few players anywhere in the world are capable of.”

DOWNBEAT “Smith’s some sax-man

Read more

Primary Instrument

Saxophone, tenor



Willing to teach

Advanced only


Professor of Jazz at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow

Artists who share similar musical characteristics to Tommy Smith.

Arild Andersen
bass, acoustic
John Coltrane
Jan Garbarek
saxophone, tenor
Stan Getz
saxophone, tenor
Coleman Hawkins
saxophone, tenor
Bobby Wellins
saxophone, tenor


Cause and Effect

From: Karma
By Tommy Smith

Tommy Smith Albums

Tommy Smith Tour

Past Concerts

  Sun, Nov 7
Dunfermline, UK
Tommy Smith
Dunfermline Abbey
Sun, Nov 7. 3:00 pm
  Thu, Nov 18
Edinburgh, UK
Kurt Elling: Apparition Bridge
The Queen's Hall
Thu, Nov 18. 7:30 pm
  Fri, Nov 19
Perth, UK
Kurt Elling: Apparition Bridge
Perth Concert Hall
Fri, Nov 19. 7:30 pm
  Sat, Nov 20
  Sun, Nov 21
Aberdeen, UK
Kurt Elling: Apparition Bridge
Music Hall
Sun, Nov 21. 7:30 pm