From a young age, Walter began taking music very seriously. “My first gig was playing at a McDonalds in Houston with another saxophone player. I took a solo on “Blue Bossa.” It was terrible. People clapped, and I figured if I could get away with that and get applause, how could I fail?”
Although it may appear Smith is a new voice on the scene, he is widely recognized as an adept performer, accomplished composer, and inspired educator. Smith released his 5th album as a leader, “Twio” in February of 2018 with his longtime trio of Harish Raghavan and Eric Harland including guest appearances by Christian McBride and Joshua Redman.
In the Jazz tradition, Smith has developed under the wings of many of the music’s greats. Walter is/has been a member of several legendary groups (recording and/or touring) including the Roy Haynes Fountain of Youth Band, Terence Blanchard Quintet, Eric Harland's “Voyager”, Jason Moran’s In My Mind:Monk at Town Hall, Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet, the Christian McBride “Situation”, Christian Scott group and the Sean Jones Quintet to name a few. Smith has performed all over the world participating in virtually every international festival as well as famed venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Village Vanguard, and the Kennedy Center. In addition, he has shared the stage and/or appeared on recordings with many Jazz notables including Mulgrew Miller, Eric Reed, Billy Childs, Joe Lovano, Herbie Hancock, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Terri Lynne Carrington, Bill Stewart, Ralph Peterson, and a host of others. To date, Walter has appeared on over 100 recordings that are released worldwide.
Originally from Houston, TX, Smith now resides in Boston, MA and is Chair of Woodwinds at Berklee College of Music helping to prepare the next generation of Jazz students.
What the Jazz Masters are Saying
Jimmy Heath · Saxophonist/Composer/Arranger
Walter Smith is a perfect example of what my mentor Dizzy Gillespie said "You have to have one foot in the past and one foot in the future”.
Benny Golson · Saxophonist/Composer/Arranger
I met Walter Smith a few years ago and was immediately impressed at the sounds he was sending forth striking the medium of the air and all ears. I heard and felt a distinct 'voice' with no vestiges of any other voice. Only his own. This was so impressive since there so many similar sounds and concepts today.
Bill Pierce · Saxophonist/Composer
Berklee College of Music Woodwind Chair
Walter Smith is a brilliant musician. He embodies the things that I admire most in a saxophonist. He understands and embraces the music of the past masters but he looks to create his own vision. He has complete command of his instrument and the music that he plays. I am looking forward to what he comes up with in the future.
Joe Lovano · Saxophonist/Composer
Walter Smith III is an inspired young saxophonist and composer with a lot to say... It's been great to know & work with him through the years and I look forward to future encounters.
Ralph Peterson JR · Drummer/Bandleader
Walter Smith III is one of the most thoughtful, deliberate and brilliant tenor players to come along in his generation. His composing and arranging also shows a depth of concept well beyond that of most of his contemporaries. Walter is always swinging, always soulful and always bringing fresh ideas to the music.
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The New York Times
“uses some of that mid-’60s Miles strategy, and the best of it — is fabulous... this is a band, not just an assembly. It should play more often in New York.”
“... the rising star tenor saxophonist piggybacks on ideas postulated on his two prior releases with maturity, freshness, and edge.”
All About Jazz
“... consistently emerging as an identifiable voice among the masses.”
LA Weekly Blog
“... further emphasizing his controlled toned and succinctly stating his case for why he is such an in-demand performer.”