Saxophonist Tommy Smith is returning to Crail for a solo concert

​Saxophonist Tommy Smith returns to the East Neuk on Sunday 18th February when he plays an afternoon solo concert at Crail Community Hall.
Tommy Smith belting out a tune. Pic by: Derek ClarkTommy Smith belting out a tune. Pic by: Derek Clark
Tommy Smith belting out a tune. Pic by: Derek Clark

​Crail is the scene of two triumphs for the internationally respected, Edinburgh-born musician.

When he played at Crail Community Hall just over a year ago, his performance was given an ecstatic review which praised Smith’s depth and skill as a musician and the mesmerising quality of his saxophone playing.

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On another visit to Crail – when he played the local golf course – his playing partner, whom he had just met, was not taken with the idea of Smith’s career in music.

“We were on the eighth hole when he asked me what I did for a living and when I told him I’m a jazz musician, he went off on a very negative rant,” says Smith. “He told me he hated that noise and didn’t ever want to hear jazz again.”

The saxophonist, who was trailing in the match at the time, kept his thoughts to himself, focused on the game and turned the result around to finish ahead of his opponent.

“I hadn’t thought of playing jazz as a motivation exercise before but it worked that time,” he adds.

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Smith’s motivation to play world class jazz took him as a teenager to the U.S, where after just a few weeks at Berklee School of Music he was recommended by one jazz legend, pianist and keyboardist Chick Corea, to another, vibes master Gary Burton.

His solo concerts have seen him playing recently in Lichfield Cathedral, Dunfermline Abbey and at Parma Jazz Festival in Italy. When not following his own concert schedule, he is busy directing the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and the Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra and overseeing the jazz course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow.

“There are lots of talented young players coming through these days,” he says. “It’s inspiring to hear them and to watch them progress. It keeps me on my toes, as does playing solo concerts. I always say that I don’t know what I’m going to play until I start playing and that’s true but it helps that venues like Crail Community Hall have such good acoustics – they make you want to play and create a good sound for the audience.”

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