Tommy Smith is one of the world's leading saxophonists. A presence on the international jazz scene since his teenage years, when he toured the world with vibes virtuoso Gary Burton's Whiz Kids quintet, Smith has gone to record with the definitive jazz label, Blue Note and work with myriad jazz greats including Chick Corea, John Scofield, Randy Brecker, Dame Cleo Laine and Jack DeJohnette.
His compositions and soloist work extend to the symphonic arena, with albums including Modern Jacobite, recorded with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and as its founding director he has built the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra into an internationally regarded, award-winning big band. This ensemble's collaborations now range from tributes to Frank Sinatra, with American singing star Kurt Elling, to new music for jazz soloists, traditional musicians and Japanese taiko drummers.
Smith's touring and recording commitments also include Norwegian double bass master Arild Anderson's group, which records for the prestigious ECM label and has been widely praised as one of the leading groups working in contemporary jazz. His own group, the Tommy Smith Quartet: Embodying the Light, has received ecstatic responses for its programmes dedicated to Smith’s greatest influence, jazz legend John Coltrane.
The quartet’s pianist, Peter Johnstone has become an inspiration to Smith, spurring the saxophonist on to greater improvisatory heights. Together they represent two generations of Scottish jazz mastery, with Johnstone developing from the Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year winner in 2012 into the first student on the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s jazz course to return as a teacher. As well as featuring extensively with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, the organ trio Prime and saxophonist Helena Kay’s KIM Trio, Peter has won the much-coveted Peter Whittingham Jazz Prize with the Scottish band Square One and is also an accomplished classical pianist, having completed his Masters degree at the RCS in 2016.
Together, Smith and Johnstone draw on a wide range of music from the genre-defining jazz of Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, John Coltrane and Stan Getz through Michael Brecker and on to folk music from the Scottish, Gaelic and Middle Eastern traditions.