Scottish Jazz Saxophonist Tommy Smith to be presented with OBE by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on July 2nd at Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh.
Tommy Smith says:
“At the age of 52, you can’t help contemplate, if you’ve done enough for your country. I certainly have had a very stagnated career since focusing on the SNJO from 1995 to present, Spartacus Records in 2000, my youth orchestra from 2002, the Scottish Jazz Federation, the RCS jazz programme in 2009, and its adjacent Summer jazz school.
Soon, I hope to spend more time on my own career writing, practising and touring. All I ever imagined, as a young player, was to excel in a small quartet, trio or duo. I never wished to start a National orchestra nor develop a University Jazz programme, but Scotland was in dire need of them – and as I saw every country on the planet flourish with those elements we lacked whilst touring internationally with Gary Burton. Somebody, me, had to stick their career on the line and get their hands mucky to begin the long wait and develop the basics, that was sorely neglected.
It’s been over a quarter of a Century now since my first 24-week jazz programme at Napier University in 1993, and Scotland STILL needs a proper jazz infrastructure equal to our European neighbours regarding promoters, festivals, record companies, agents, improvised music in high schools, radio, and TV, etc., Even though we a small country, we can do it!
The young talented next generation of creative musicians sweeping our country like [Fergus McCreadie, Joe Williamson, Helena Kay, Graham Costello, Matthew Carmichael, Mark Hendry, Kornelijus Pukinskis, Brodie Jarvie, Rachel Cohen, Tom Stephenson, Stephen Henderson, Alan Benzie, Pete Johnstone, Andrew Robb, Corrie Dick, Joseph Wright, John Fleming, John Lowrie, Ben Mac, Lauren Macdonald, etc., to name but a few..] need an immense amount of support so they can flourish, develop and tour internationally; they deserve it! Although, many have already left Scotland.
Finding and hooking up with international agents, while working in Scotland, is like trying to find a Dodo or a Tasmanian Tiger.
Hopefully, as we live through this new digital age, the zeros and ones will assist this new generation of Scottish improvisers to circumnavigate any barriers that confront them. Good luck to them, they’ll need it, as it is a tough terrain ahead from 2020 onwards.
On Tuesday, at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, I am to be presented with my official OBE by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as Head of Jazz at the RCS and Artistic Director of the SNJO for services to Education and Jazz Music. I’m am very grateful for the honour and truly thank the people or person who nominated me. It will be a wonderful day for my family and me.
Truthfully, my heart is here in Scotland but for the community of improvising musicians to be equals on the World stage, the European stage, we still have a long way to go.
So raise a glass, and toast to the 2nd Enlightenment!
P.S. Perhaps my solo career needs to wait a little longer.
Photos by Derek Clark © 2018
Last modified: July 1, 2019