Happy Birthday, Warren Smith!
Multi-instrumentalist Warren Smith’s 80th birthday is on 13th May and we, at buddy’s knife jazzedition, celebrate his lifetime of artistic achievement.
Warren was born in Chicago into a family of performing musicians. He would become an inspiring artist as well as a compassionate teacher. Receiving his undergraduate degree in music education from the University of Illinois in 1957, he then earned his Master’s degree in percussion (1958) at the Manhattan School of Music.
By age 27 he’d already worked with the likes of Miles Davis and Gil Evans but his solid musical foundation prepared him for much more. A dedicated community music educator, Smith taught in New York City public schools from 1958 to 1968 and at the Third Street Settlement between 1960 and 1967. In the early 60’s he co-founded the Composers Workshop Ensemble. Smith’s association with and recognition by Max Roach and Makanda Ken McIntyre led to pivotal points in his career. In 1970 Max Roach invited him to join his ensemble M’Boom and in 1971 Makanda Ken McIntyre engaged him to teach performing arts at SUNY, Old Westbury
Warren’s involvement in academia, his performing with the most cutting edge artists on the scene, enabled him to open and operate one of the first and longest-running jazz lofts in NYC, called Studio WIS. It was here, and at other lofts (Sam and Bea Rivers’ Studio Rivbea, Joe Lee Wilson’s Ladies Fort, and Rashid Ali’s Ali’s Alley) that young upcoming improvising musicians like Rashid Sinan, William Parker, and Phillip Wilson, were inspired to perform and make excellent recordings outside of the commercial jazz scene. A great part of Warren’s legacy will be laced into the success of so many musicians who’ve been inspired by him. Mr. Smith has selflessly taken on the responsibility of preserving and dignifying the essence of jazz improvisation.
Warren’s ability to express his views on one of American society’s dilemmas, artistically, becomes crystal clear with his poem Tel-Lie-Vis-Ion in silent solos – improvisers speak. His outspokenness, clever depiction of mass media, and cadence makes the work both relevant and accessible. A very short excerpt from Tel-Lie-Vis-Ion, where Warren poetically gives hope that the madness of war may have run its course:
…from coast to coast, from north to south
folks are shouting their feelings against it…
Join us in wishing him a wonder-filled 80th birthday!
Happy Birthday, Warren!
buddy’s knife jazzedition
Teutoburger Straße 17