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Saxophonist Walter Smith appointed to IU Jacobs School of Music Jazz Studies faculty

May 31, 2016

Walter Smith III

Walter Smith III

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The Indiana University Jacobs School of Music is pleased to announce the appointment of saxophonist Walter Smith III as associate professor of music (jazz studies), effective Aug. 1, pending approval of the Trustees of Indiana University.  

At age 34, Smith is already 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.

“Those who have had the pleasure of meeting Walter Smith have been moved by his musicianship, inspired by his teaching and impressed by his connection to the profession and his vision for its future,” said Jacobs Dean Gwyn Richards. “It will be exciting for all of us to see his interaction with our faculty, students and staff.”

“We are very excited to have Walter join the jazz faculty at the Jacobs School,” said Tom Walsh, chair of the Jacobs Jazz Studies Department. “Walter is a deep musician who has the heart of a teacher. He is very active on the international scene, performing and recording with some of the most gifted young players in jazz, and we look forward to the new perspective he will bring to jazz studies at IU.”

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.

“The opportunity to join this world-class faculty is the chance of a lifetime,” said Smith. “I'm looking forward to continuing and building on David Baker's legacy with the Jazz Studies program at Indiana University and am eager to see what the future holds.”