Saxophonist Walter Smith III To Join Faculty of Indiana University


Walter Smith III will join the faculty of the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University later this summer.

(Photo: Courtesy of the artist)

Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, the longtime home of jazz education pioneer David Baker (1931–2016), will add another famous face to its faculty this summer.

The program, based in Bloomington, Indiana, has announced the appointment of saxophonist Walter Smith III as associate professor of music in the jazz studies deparment. The appointment will become effective Aug. 1, pending approval of the Trustees of Indiana University.

Smith, 34, is an accomplished performer who is well regarded in jazz circles. His latest album, the self-released Still Casual, reached the jazz top 10 on iTunes. In addition to being a bandleader, Smith is a member of trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire’s quintet and drummer Eric Harland’s band Voyager.

“Those who have had the pleasure of meeting Walter Smith have been moved by his musicianship, inspired by his teaching and impressed by his connection to the profession and his vision for its future,” said Gwyn Richards, dean of the Jacobs School of Music. “It will be exciting for all of us to see his interaction with our faculty, students and staff.”

“We are very excited to have Walter join the jazz faculty at the Jacobs School,” said Tom Walsh, chair of the Jacobs Jazz Studies Department. “Walter is a deep musician who has the heart of a teacher. He is very active on the international scene, performing and recording with some of the most gifted young players in jazz, and we look forward to the new perspective he will bring to jazz studies at IU.”

In a profile in the December 2014 issue of DownBeat, Smith shared his desire for a career in education with journalist Michael J. West. “His ambition was (and to some extent still is) to be a teacher,” West wrote. “He graduated from Berklee with a bachelor’s degree in music education and then went on to graduate studies at the Thelonious Monk Institute and Manhattan School of Music.”

Since graduating from those prestigious programs, Smith has performed all over the world at numerous international festivals as well as venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. He has shared the stage and appeared on recordings with many jazz and pop notables, including Eric Reed, Mulgrew Miller, Joe Lovano, Herbie Hancock, Lauryn Hill, Destiny’s Child, Snarky Puppy, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Terri Lynne Carrington.

“The opportunity to join this world-class faculty is the chance of a lifetime,” Smith said. “I’m looking forward to continuing and building on David Baker’s legacy with the Jazz Studies program at Indiana University and am eager to see what the future holds.”

For more information, visit the Jacobs School of Music website. To visit an IU blog devoted to the memory of Dr. David Baker, click here.

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