Warren Smith

born on 13/5/1934 in Chicago, IL, United States

Links www.allaboutjazz.com (English)

Warren Smith (jazz musician)

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Warren Smith (jazz musician)

Warren Smith (born May 14, 1934) is an American jazz percussionist, known as contributor to Max Roach's M'boom ensemble and leader of the Composer's Workshop Ensemble (Strata-East).


Smith was born in Chicago, Illinois, into a musical family; his father played saxophone and clarinet with Noble Sissle and Jimmie Noone, and his mother was a harpist and pianist. He studied clarinet under his father from age four. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1957, then took a master's in percussion at the Manhattan School of Music in 1958.

One of his earliest major recording dates was with Miles Davis as a vibraphonist in 1957. He found work in Broadway pit bands in 1958, and also played with Gil Evans that year. In 1961 he co-founded the Composers Workshop Ensemble, a New York-based jazz composition and performance ensemble. In the 1960s Smith accompanied Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Lloyd Price, and Nat King Cole; he worked with Sam Rivers from 196476 and with Gil Evans again from 1968 to 1976. In 1969 he played with Janis Joplin and in 1971 with Tony Williams Lifetime. He was also a founding member of Max Roach's percussion ensemble, M'Boom, in 1970. In the 1970s and 1980s Smith had a loft called Studio Wis which acted as a performing and recording space for many young New York jazz musicians, such as Wadada Leo Smith and Oliver Lake. Through the 1970s Smith played with Andrew White, Julius Hemphill, Muhal Richard Abrams, Nancy Wilson, Quincy Jones, Count Basie, and Carmen McRae. Other credits include extensive work with rock and pop musicians and time spent with Anthony Braxton, Charles Mingus, Henry Threadgill, Van Morrison, and Joe Zawinul. He continued to work on Broadway into the 1990s, and has performed with a number of classical ensembles.

Smith taught in the New York City public school system from 1958 to 1968, at Third Street Settlement from 1960 to 1967, at Adelphi University in 1970-71, and at SUNY-Old Westbury from 1971.


As leader

  • 1975: Folks Song (Baystate)
  • 1979: Warren Smith and Masami Nakagawa (RCA)
  • 1979: Warren Smith and Toki (RCA)
  • 1995: Warren Smith and the Composer's Workshop Ensemble (Claves)
  • 1998: Cats Are Stealing My $hit (Mapleshade Records)
  • 2007: Natural/Cultural Forces (Engine Records)
  • 2009: Old News Borrowed Blues (Engine Records)

As sideman

With Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt

  • Together Again for the Last Time (Prestige, 1973 [1976])

With Anthony Braxton

  • Creative Orchestra Music 1976 (Arista, 1976)

With Jaki Byard

  • Family Man (Muse, 1978)

With Composer's Workshop Ensemble

  • Composer's Workshop Ensemble (Strata-East, 1972)
  • We've Been Around (Strata-East, 1974)

With Benny Golson

  • Tune In, Turn On (Verve, 1967)

With Julius Hemphill

  • Flat-Out Jump Suite (Black Saint, 1980)

With J. J. Johnson and Kai Winding

  • Betwixt & Between (A&M/CTI, 1969)

With Hubert Laws

  • Wild Flower (Atlantic, 1972)

With M'Boom

  • Re: Percussion (Strata-East, 1973)
  • M'Boom (Columbia, 1979)
  • Collage (Soul Note, 1984)
  • To the Max! (Enja, 1990-91)
  • Live at S.O.B.'s New York (Blue Moon, 1992)

With Jack McDuff

  • A Change Is Gonna Come (Atlantic, 1966)

With Charles Mingus

  • The Complete Town Hall Concert (Blue Note, 1962 [1994])

With Sam Rivers

  • Hues (Impulse!, 1973)
  • Sizzle (Impulse!, 1975)
with Roy Campbell, Joe McPhee & William Parker
  • Tribute to Albert Ayler Live at the Dynamo (Marge Records, 2009)


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