Jazz interview with jazz saxophonist and composer Walter Smith III. An interview by email in writing.
JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?
Walter Smith III: – I’m from Houston, Texas and I first got interested in music through my father, who taught band and played saxophone.
JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the your musical instrument? What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today? What made you choose the your musical instrument?
WS: – My father was my first teacher (and a saxophonist) and really got me started and interested in music. Along the way I had some incredible teachers in Houston and later in college. In Houston I studied with Conrad Johnson and David Caceres. At Berklee I studied with Bill Pierce and George Garzone. In New York I spent a lot of time with Dick Oatts. In addition to all of them, I’ve asked a lot of questions to a lot of people and had more informal experiences with countless others that really helped me figure things out and gain more knowledge.
JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?
WS: – Getting the opportunity to play difficult music with great musicians really helped me more than anything to improve rhythmically. Also getting to play with great rhythm sections on less challenging music helped me to figure out a lot of things. As far as practice, I spend a lot of time with a metronome working on different time signatures and different ways of phrasing to prepare for those musical situations.
JBN.S: – Which are the best jazz albums for you of 2017 year?
WS: – Ambrose Akinmusire – A Rift in Decorum Live @ Village Vanguard
Vijay Iyer – Far from Over
Steve Coleman – Morphogenesis
Jason Moran – Thanksgiving at the Vanguard
JBN.S: – Many aspiring musicians are always looking for advice when navigating thru the music business. Is there any piece of advice you can offer to aspiring students or even your peers that you believe will help them succeed and stay positive in this business?
WS: – Make sure that you are serious with your craft – practice and write as much as possible. Producing quality work and sounding great will always pay off. The business side of things will be learned as you get opportunities, but making sure that you are building your skills and musicianship that will last the rest of your life is most important.
JBN.S: – Аnd furthermore, can jazz be a business today or someday?
WS: – It can be and it is.
JBN.S: – Which collaboration have been the most important experiences for you?
WS: – I’ve had the chance to play with a lot of people that have really helped me musically but the one that has influenced me the most is Ambrose Akinmusire.
JBN.S: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
WS: – The internet in general, leading to the digitizing of music has changed a lot about how music is valued. YouTube has removed a lot of the mystery surrounding someone’s live concerts. While the internet provides so much, it has actually taken away a lot of what got me so excited about playing music and going to concerts.
JBN.S: – What’s the next musical frontier for you?
WS: – Space.
JBN.S: – What’s your current setup?
WS: – I play a Selmer Super Balanced Action #42xxx, a Fred LeBayle LRIII mouthpiece (12) and Vandoren V16 reeds 3.5.
JBN.S: – We don’t know that he did not answer our many questions and we could not conceal why?
Interview by Simon Sargsyan