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Walter Smith III

Associate Professor of Music (Jazz Studies)

Contact Information:
East Studio Building, JS323


Jazz Studies

  • Graduate Diploma (Jazz Performance), Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz , 2007
  • M.M. (Jazz Studies), Manhattan School of Music , 2005
  • B.F.A. (Music Education), Berklee College of Music , 2003

Walter Smith III is associate professor of jazz studies at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.

Although it may appear Smith is a young gun on the scene, at age 34, he is widely recognized as an adept performer, accomplished composer, and inspired educator. His most recent album, Still Casual, is his fourth as a leader and was released to great critical acclaim, making it a top-10 best seller on iTunes.

A Los Angeles Times performance review simply states the future of jazz is bright with this rising saxophonist: “A line of fans young and old hoping to see a show that had sold out of advance tickets stretched past a nearby ramen shop. . . . This was a jazz show, mind you. In 2012.”

In the jazz tradition, Smith has developed under the wings of many of the music’s greats. He 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 Band, Jason Moran’s In My Mind: Monk at Town Hall, Christian McBride Situation band, Christian Scott group, and Sean Jones Quintet.

Smith has performed all over the world participating in numerous international festivals as well as famed venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. In addition, he has shared the stage and/or appeared on recordings with many jazz and pop notables, including Eric Reed, Mulgrew Miller, Joe Lovano, Herbie Hancock, Lauren Hill, Destiny’s Child, Snarky Puppy, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Terri Lynne Carrington, and a host of others. To date, he has appeared on over 100 recordings that are released worldwide.

With his fresh sound and compelling original compositions, Smith is consistently called as a sideman in some of jazz’s developing and gifted bands, currently touring with Ambrose Akinmusire's Quintet (2013 DownBeat Rising Star group of the year) and Eric Harland's Voyager band.

Originally from Houston, Texas, where he attended the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Smith currently resides in the Los Angeles, Calif., area. When not touring, he utilizes his music education degree from Berklee College of Music, master’s degree from Manhattan School of Music, and Graduate Certificate in Performance from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz to teach the next generation of jazz students.

Smith endorses D'Addario Woodwinds reeds and accessories, Fred LeBayle Mouthpieces, and Electro-Voice Microphones.

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