Daniel Ian Smith

Affiliated Departments

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Career Highlights
  • Former faculty member, Boston University and New England Conservatory of Music
  • Saxophonist
  • Performances with the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, Michael Abene, Pablo Ablanedo Octet, Arturo Sandoval Big Bang, Fernando Huergo Big Band, the Big and Phat Jazz Orchestra, the Boston Philharmonic, Rhode Island Philharmonic, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Nick Brignola, Composers in Red Sneakers, Marty Ehrlich, Jimmy Giuffre, Joel Harrison, Fred Ho, the Jazz Composers Alliance, Sheila Jordan, John Lewis, Johnny Mathis, the New World Jazz Composers Octet, the NuClassix Composers Forum, the O’Jays, Rebecca Parris, Lewis Porter, Claudio Roditi, George Russell, Jyoji Sawada, Maria Schneider, the Temptations, Clark Tracey, Jack Walrath, Kazumi Watanabe, Mike Abene, Mark Walker, Guinga, Edsel Gomez, Eddie Gomez, and Ray Drummond
  • Performances at Tel Aviv Jazz Festival, Boston Globe Jazz Festival, Newport Jazz Festival, Ottawa International Jazz Festival, Durango Jazz Fest, International Festival JazzUV, Tokyo, Kobe, Kyoto, and Berlin
  • Recordings for Sony, DIW (Japan), Big and Phat Jazz Productions, Cherry Street Records, Nine Winds, and Brownstone Records
  • Founder/artistic director, Jazz in the Sanctuary concert series, Big and Phat Jazz Records
  • Founder/director of The New World Jazz Composers Octet (Recordings include: No Place to HideTransitions, Breaking News, and The Next Stage)
  • Member of The Brian McCarthy Octet (Recordings include The Better Angels of Our Nature and AfterLife)
  • Recipient, Uchida Fellowship sponsored by the Japan Foundation (1996)
  • Grammy Nomination for the Boston Modern Orchestra Project recording of Anthony Davis: The Life and Times of Malcolm X
  • Ted Pease Award for Excellence in Teaching
  • School Name
    New England Conservatory of Music
    Master of Music (M.M.)
    Field of Study
    Jazz Studies
    Date Degree Received
  • School Name
    Ithaca College
    State or Province
    New York
    Bachelor of Music (B.M.)
    Field of Study
    Date Degree Received
In Their Own Words

"To me music has profound qualities; it is incredibly inspirational. I say to my classes, 'I want to believe that music grabbed you by the shirt, threw you up against the wall, and said, "You're going to pay attention to me."' But in a harmony or sight singing class, they may think, 'This is not what grabbed me by the shirt.' To show that what they're learning has a tremendous role in the aesthetic experience is vital."

"Given all the constructs we have to deliver, it would be easy to walk into class and throw a list up on the board. But I'd rather start with a piece of music and ask, 'What colors do you see? When you hear this section, what does it feel like?' I want to start with that tangible connection and then say, 'Okay, now let's look at the chords, or the relationship between the melody and the harmony.'"

"One of my favorite examples is a great piece of music, John Coltrane's 'Moment's Notice.' The melody is incredibly simple—it's mostly a major scale, all diatonic. But when you marry it with his harmony, it becomes this whole other world. He aligns it with this hypervigilant chord progression moving through implied keys, the tempo is fast, and it becomes a tour de force. Therein lies the beauty and the magic of great composers and great improvisers: they know how to take the obvious and bring it to another level."

"My students ask, 'Do you really think composers think of all these things?' No, they don't have to, because they already know them. They're dealing with their composition immediately on the aesthetic level, instead of going through the thought level. But students are still sharpening the edges of their knives."

"Music touches all the same sensibilities that we struggle with every day; the things we surround ourselves with; the things we try to become a part of, avoid, or transcend. Life—like a unified piece of music—is about balance: the relationships between dissonance and consonance. And music—like life—is a journey. If you allow it to lead you, you'll go to beautiful places."

"They say that those that can't do..teach. To me that couldn't be farther from the truth. I have an extensive background as a performer, conductor, bandleader, as well as a coordinator of a concert series and jazz festivals, an administrator and serving on boards of directors for town and community organizations, and a fundraiser. I bring a diversity of life experiences with me into the classroom which I believe only enhances my ability to communicate with my students on a number of levels."