Tommy Smith is perhaps the most high-profile jazz musician Scotland has ever produced.
The Edinburgh-born tenor saxophonist earned a scholarship to the world’s most famous jazz college, Berklee in Boston in the USA in his teens, made his name touring with Gary Burton, and earned a record deal with the renowned jazz label, Blue Note, back in the early 1990s.
He has gone on to enjoy a distinguished career, working with a plethora of top-notch musicians across a variety of genres.
Now 52, Smith had long wanted to start a jazz course in Scotland, but it took until 2009 to get the jazz programme at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland off the ground.
Ten years later, the course, which has room for just six musicians each year, is really starting to bear fruit.
Numerous bands are emerging as a result of meeting at the RCS, while new venues, such as the Blue Arrow in Glasgow, and existing hubs, like the Jazz Bar in Edinburgh, offer regular opportunities for gigs.
On top of that, some top-class musicians, like pianist Fergus McCreadie, are coming through.
Scotland now boasts a jazz scene that seems to have real strength and depth, and a burgeoning audience. Smith has cearly played a substantial role in creating this “scene”.
Here, Tommy Smith outlines the genesis of the new wave of Scottish jazz to Radio ENRG’s Allan Boughey…
By Allan Boughey