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Bio of Warren by Henry Grimes

Here is a Warren Smith bio that will blow everybody away. I wrote / compiled it for the recent Baba Andrew Lamb/ Henry Grimes/ Warren Smith concert on Valentine’s Day at Sistas’ Place, and Warren approved it:

WARREN SMITH is known for masterful percussion work with an endless array of jazz artists, a bevy of pop stars, and in countless studios and Broadway pit bands, as well as on more than 3,000 recordings. He might be the only man alive who has played with Nat Cole, Harry Partch and Charles Mingus, as well as Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin and Barbra Streisand! In 1961 he co-founded the Composers Workshop Ensemble, which is ongoing. Over the decades, Warren has worked with Muhal Richard Abrams, Count Basie, Anthony Braxton, Bill Cole, Nat King Cole, Miles Davis, Gil Evans, Aretha Franklin, Julius Hemphill, Quincy Jones, Janis Joplin (as her musical director), Makanda Ken McIntyre, Carmen McRae, Charles Mingus, Van Morrison, Harry Partch, Sam Rivers, Nina Simone, Henry Threadgill, Andrew White, Tony Williams’ Lifetime, Nancy Wilson, and Joe Zawinul. Warren was a founding member of Max Roach’s percussion ensemble, M’Boom. From the ’60s through the ’80s,Smith ran Studio WIS, which hosted many New York jazz musicians, such as Wadada Leo Smith and Oliver Lake. These days, Warren continues to perform with many top artists, as well as leading his own ensembles. .

Warren chosen for Creative Music Foundation 2015 Workshops

CMF has named Guiding Artists for its 2015 Workshops:  June 8 – 12 with Steven Bernstein, Amir ElSaffar and Warren Smith; and October 5 – 9 featuring Peter Apfelbaum, Rudresh Mahanthappa and Billy Martin.
The Creative Music Foundation, a 501C(3) nonprofit corporation, makes it possible to profoundly experience and express our deep connection with the transforming energies of music, our universal language. CMF programs focus on the common elements of all music — emphasizing keen awareness, personal expression, intensive listening and cross-cultural communication, and providing unique opportunities for musicians, students and listeners from different backgrounds and traditions to explore together, share, develop, and broaden their musical understanding and sensitivity. CMF pursues its mission through workshops, residencies, coaching, concerts, recordings and archival projects that engage both listeners and musicians in the U.S. and around the world.

JAZZforum in Washington DC

JAZZforum with percussion legend Warren Smith.

Wednesday September 17th, 7pm

University of the District of Columbia

Recital Hall, Performing Arts Building, 46-west

Free and open to the public

Warren smith is a multi-faceted musician – a master percussionist, composer, educator, and music activist whose career has covered a wide spectrum of performances, recordings, and collaborations. In addition to his New York-based jazz composition and performance cooperative, the Composer’s Workshop Ensemble, Smith was a founding member of Max Roach’s percussion ensemble M’Boom and has worked with artists such as Miles Davis, Sam Rivers, Charles, Mingus, Anthony Braxton, Andrew White, Nat King Cole, and Aretha Franklin to name a few.

Smith is also an archivist with a rare collection of original scores and recordings of ensembles of his own and of his fellow musicians and composers, particularly percussionists. He will discuss his extensive career, background, experiences, and current projects.

In a JazzTimes profile, Lyn Horton writes: “His capacity to make music exceeds that of many modern masters in any part of the music world.”

This JAZZforum is presented in cooperations with Philanthropic Cultural Expressions, Inc.


Birthday Wish from Buddy’s Knife Newsletter

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
in 1971.
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
50678 Cologne

Introducing Edith Lettner

“In music, painting and in my daily life improvisation and spontaneity are very important to me. I have got to be on the move, constantly. Over the last couple of years I have reached what I consider to be perfection: I no longer reside, I commute with my travel bag and my instruments… between my studio and in the country, Vienna, New York, Senegal.”


Edith Lettner was born in Linz, Austria, in 1964. In 1983 she made Vienna the centre of her work as a freelance musician and painter. She showed her work in numerous exhibitions at home and abroad and staged painting performances together with jazz musicians. As a saxophonist, she studied with Leo Wright, Manfred Balasch, Herwig Gradischnig and Oscar Noriega in New York. She took classes in jazz theory with Uli Scherer.

Edith Lettner’s interests lie primarily in jazz, free improvisation, African and oriental music. She also plays the Duduk, an Armenian woodwind instrument. She very intuitively brings her unique and distinctive style to the cooperation with numerous bands, both during live performances and CD recordings. In 2005 she founded her own ensemble freemotion (jazz & more) and in 2010 the African Jazz Spirit project in Senegal. To both projects she can contribute her own compositions in very special ways. Edith Lettner has also composed theatre and film music.

Her frequent cooperation with musicians from other cultures and artists from other art genres has made her an incredibly versatile artistic personality with a penchant for activism. Her numerous stays abroad (Senegal, New York, Armenia….) are absolutely essential to Edith Lettner. Her works in music and painting cross-fertilise each other.


Tel: +43 (0) 699 123 60 207