Stealth Jazz Musician, Educator, Writer
DownBeat magazine once called 2013 Jazz Education Hall of Fame inductee Tom Smith "part trombonist, part music missionary." Educators agreed when in 2008, they made him the last IAJE Ambassador Award recipient. He has also been called (by the US Fulbright Commission) "a quintessential 21st Century Advocate for new approaches towards creativity, flexibility, novel thinking." These endeavors began with public school teaching, followed by many years as one of America's best known visiting artists and music scene creators, then more years as a world class road musician, performance center builder, musical director, oft awarded university professor, advocate, writer, and editorialist.
A longtime American trombonist, educator, wind symphony conductor, studio brass teacher, big band leader, jazz choir director, researcher, concert impresario, and program creator, Smith is a six time Senior Fulbright Professor at the Romanian National University of Music in Bucharest, and Tibiscus University in Timisoara. He was also a Senior Fulbright Professional Specialist at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa and at the Serbian Academy of Music in Belgrade, where he additionally initiated their jazz program.
In 2003 Tom was the first foreigner to be awarded the Romanian National Radio Prize (for unifying their jazz and popular music community), co founded/ coordinated Romania's first summer music camp, and their first school of jazz and popular music, alongside having performed on three of that country's officially designated 100 Most Essential Recordings. Before his Fulbright appointments, Tom was for several years, Director of Instrumental Music at Pfeiffer University (and other institutions), musical director for a cruise ship line, and the longest continuous participant in the North Carolina Visiting Artist Program.
Tom has founded over 50 regional jazz ensembles on four continents (and their support organizations), including the legendary Unifour Big Band, America's first entirely state funded jazz ensemble. An active performer worldwide, Tom has played trombone, conducted or recorded for scores of iconic jazz musicians and has worked with legendary entertainers of every western genre.
In 2010, Tom and his wife relocated to Northeast China where he developed a music strategy for teaching English to native Mandarin speakers and in 2011 was hired as Professor and Founding Director of Jazz and Popular Music Studies at Ningbo University (near Shanghai) the first full time American music professor of any genre in Mainland China. He then subsequently wrote that country's national curriculum for jazz and popular music education. In 2013, he was awarded China's Camellia Prize for significant cultural and entrepreneurial contributions. From late 2016 through 2017, Tom pursued postgraduate musicology studies in South Australia while working with prominent ensembles.
Tom was the Brubeck Institute Researcher of 2014, and his many published topics in music scholarship have been featured on programs like National Public Radio's Weekly Edition, Discovery Channel Canada, and the Rutgers Roundtable. He has also contributed entries and chapters to numerous academic encyclopedias, including Teaching Music Through Performance In Jazz, Bakers Dictionary of Music, the Oxford Encyclopedia of European Jazz, and American National Biography.
In 2015, Tom reasserted a writing presence; and his editorials- books are widely read, including, but not limited to: Jazz Rants (2022), Jazz According to Me (2021), Critical Jazz Theory (2021), The Stealth Jazz Abbreviated Guide to Media (2020), Stealth Jazz Part II: Educational Dystopia (2019), Royal Hipsters of Jazz (2018), Stealth Jazz: Behind the Curtain (2017), and his English stewardship of Dr. Johnny Bota’s Blues and Jazz in Banat (2012, 2018).
Tom has also collaborated with Legends Brass to create the Smith Series line of professional trombone mouthpieces, and is the father of drummer and DJ mixologist Matt Smith.