Meet Walter Smith III:
From a young age, Walter began taking music very seriously. "My first gig was playing at a McDonalds in Houston with another saxophonist. I took a solo on "Blue Bossa." It was terrible. People clapped, and I figured if I could get away with that and get applause, how could I fail?"
Although it may appear Smith is a new voice on the scene, he is widely recognized as an adept performer, accomplished composer, and inspired educator. Smith released his 5th album as a leader, Twio
in February of 2018 with his longtime trio of Harish Raghavan
and Eric Harland
including guest appearances by Christian McBride
and Joshua Redman
In the Jazz tradition, Smith has developed under the wings of many of the music's greats. Walter is/has been a member of several legendary groups (recording and/or touring) including the Roy Haynes
Fountain of Youth Band, Terence Blanchard
Quintet, Eric Harland's "Voyager," Jason Moran
's In My Mind: Monk at Town Hall, Ambrose Akinmusire
Quintet, the Christian McBride "Situation," Christian Scott group and the Sean Jones Quintet to name a few. Smith has performed all over the world participating in virtually every international festival as well as famed venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Village Vanguard, and the Kennedy Center. In addition, he has shared the stage and/or appeared on recordings with many Jazz notables including Mulgrew Miller}}, Eric Reed
, Billy Childs
, Joe Lovano
, Herbie Hancock
, Dee Dee Bridgewater
, Terri Lynne Carrington
, Bill Stewart
, Ralph Peterson
, and a host of others. To date, Walter has appeared on over 100 recordings that are released worldwide.
Originally from Houston
, TX, Smith now resides in Boston
, MA and is Chair of Woodwinds at Berklee College of Music helping to prepare the next generation of Jazz students. Instrument(s):
Tenor Saxophone. Teachers and/or influences?
Conrad Johnson, David Caceras, Bob Morgan, Craig Green, Bill Pierce
, George Garzone
, and Dick Oatts
were my main teachers from high school to college. Along the way, I think that my most influential teachers were my peers and friends whom I continue to learn from to this day. I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
I got my first gig. I was playing at a McDonalds in Houston with another saxophonist. I took a solo on "Blue Bossa." It was terrible. People clapped, and I figured if I could get away with that and get applause, how could I fail? Your sound and approach to music.
I find that there is a direct link between composing and playing. When I'm writing a lot I feel like I connect with any song that I'm improvising on much better. My phrasing is stronger and sense of thematic development is always present. I can listen back to stuff I've played on and tell whether or not I was writing at the time. Your teaching approach
I always encourage the musical direction that the student is interested in and acknowledge their strengths while working to fill in as many gaps as possible. Also, pushing everyone to be as serious as possible when it comes to the artistic development of their craft and move into some musical realms that are unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Your dream band
There are so many people that I enjoy playing with that it's very hard to choose. I just played a week at the Vanguard with Larry Grenadier
and Bill Stewart and that was a dream rhythm section/trio....I also just played there with Ambrose Akinmusire's quintet with Sullivan Fortner
, Harish Raghavan and Justin Brown and that's another one. Next week there again with Gerald Clayton's band w/ Logan Richardson, Joe Sanders and Marcus Gilmore. I'm a lucky one! Road story: Your best or worst experience