Tommy Smith

Tommy Smith
Tommy Smith, OBE is one of the world’s leading saxophonists. 

A presence on the global jazz scene since his teenage years, when he toured internationally with vibes virtuoso Gary Burton’s Whiz Kids quintet, Smith has gone on to record with the definitive jazz label, Blue Note and work with myriad jazz greats, including Chick Corea, Jaco Pastorius, Dame Cleo Laine, John Scofield, Randy Brecker, Jack DeJohnette, Arild Andersen, Dizzy Gillespie and Trilok Gurtu to name but a few.

Since leaving Berklee College of Music, an experience that shaped his affirmative approach to jazz, he has recorded over thirty solo albums for Blue Note, Linn, ECM and his own Spartacus Record label, toured 50+ countries and performed with many influential figures in modern twentieth-century jazz. 

Tommy’s current live projects include spectacular solo acoustic concerts in churches and cathedrals, where he performs a repertoire of jazz ballads, folk tunes, classical themes and Gregorian chants, combined with lively conversation with the audience.

His excellent duos with pianists Gwilym Simcock, Pete Johnstone and Makoto Ozone, whom Tommy first met as members of Gary Burton’s quartet in the 1980s, perform at festivals worldwide and his Scottish National Jazz Orchestra (SNJO) is available for larger festivals and events both at home and abroad.

Tommy is also available as part of a trio with Norwegian bassist Arild Andersen and drummer Thomas Strønen, which has performed at a number of international festivals, including the North Sea Jazz Festival.

Although he is primarily a jazz composer, noted for assertive large-scale pieces such as Torah, World of the Gods, Spirit of Light and Beauty and the Beast, Smith’s work has frequently taken him into other spheres such as classical composition and poetry. He released his symphonic work Modern Jacobite, recorded in Glasgow with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and worked extensively with Glasgow’s inaugural poet laureate, Edwin Morgan to create 55 works of poetry and music.

Tommy is founder of the SNJO and Head of Jazz and Professor at Scotland’s Royal Conservatoire. In 2019, he received an Order of the British Empire from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh and in addition to his BBC Heart of Jazz Award, he received two Parliamentary Jazz Awards, and nine Scottish Jazz Awards.

“Smith really is a modern master of the tenor sax” London Jazz News

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

Download Tommy's full biography here.

Listen to Tommy and Makoto Ozone live at The Rochester Xerox Jazz Festival here


Career | Shows | News

  • Berklee College of Music graduate
  • Member of Gary Burton’s quintet
  • Over thirty solo albums for Blue Note, Linn, ECM and Spartacus Records
  • Toured 50+ countries
  • Founder of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra
  • Head of Jazz and Professor at Scotland’s Royal Conservatoire
  • Order of the British Empire recipient
  • Winner of two Parliamentary Jazz Awards and nine Scottish Jazz Awards
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