JAZZ PROFESSOR ON NATIONAL TV VARIETY SHOW

Professor Tom Smith, a Fulbright Scholar at the National University of Music in Bucharest who has made himself a national figure on the Romanian music scene, was featured on Romanian television’s highest rated late-night progam, “Taverna,” on Friday, April 11. Smith, whose appearances on national television in a number of spectacular jazz and big band extravaganzas have sparked nationwide media coverage of his
activities, was interviewed by the host of “Taverna” and then played a traditional musical arrangement on his trombone, with piano accompaniment. Later in the program, Smith joined the David Letterman styled house band for a fifteen minute blues jam session.The studio audience was thrilled by the performance. Tom Smith is a professor of music at Pfeiffer University in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Most Rev. Dr. Chrysostomos
Executive Director
U.S. Fulbright Commission in Romania
Str. Ing. Nicolae Costinescu, Nr. 2
71277 Bucharest, Sector 1, Romania

commission-related e-mail: director@fulbright.kappa.ro
commission website: www.usembassy.ro

private/personal e-mail: directorprivate@from.ro
private/personal telephone: (40/21) 211-7869

“The essence of intercultural education is the acquisition of empathy
— the ability to see the world as others see it, and to allow for the
possibility that others may see something that we have failed to see,
or may see it more accurately.” Senator J. William Fulbright

EXCERPTED FROM INTERVIEW ROMANIAN CABLE NEWS, APRIL 29, 2003

RCN: What did you think when Societea Romania de Radiophone gave you the Grand Award of Jazz (National Music Awards)? You are after all an American.

SMITH: Well, I obviously believed it was a mistake, and I wondered how it was possible after only being here six months. There are some musicians in Romania like Marius Popp who should have already won. In a way I felt like handing my award over to him.

RCN: Are you as well known in America as you are here?

SMITH: (laughing) Good grief no! I had a very brief minor run in the mid to late eighties. Then I faded out of view for awhile. That is the way things operate in The States. It is always about “what have you done for me lately?” and revisionist history. Still, even if I was not in any kind of national American spotlight, I saw a number of my students and colleagues get there. So in a way, that was sort of gratifying.

RCN: Tell us about this revisionist history.

SMITH: You mean I have to explain revisionist history to a Romanian? (laughs) As you know, the music business is very political. Therefore, a number of games are played by all participants in order to as we say in The States, “get a leg up.” One of them is to categorize and stereotype. Romanian musicians are probably more guilty of this practice than Americans, but they are more benign about their reasons for being this way. For example, I conduct symphonic wind symphonies at home. But, I seriously doubt I will ever be allowed within a hundred meters of a classical conductor’s podium in Romania. Now that is not to say there is not a mutual respect between myself and the Bucharest classical community. Here, it is simply a matter of old habits. In Romania, I supposedly have my turf, and they supposedly have theirs. I believe the Romanian viewpoint is more like “why would he want to be with us?” as opposed to the more cynical exclusionary practices of Americans. Now with that said, Bucharest jazz musicians are as rabid towards each other as any group I ever been around, and I think financial considerations play a huge stake in this. People get a little crazy sometimes when there is not enough money to go around.

RCN: What do you believe are the American exclusionary practices?

SMITH: First let me preface by saying that I am not complaining. Part of being in the music business is learning to develop a very thick skin. I handle things a lot better now than when I was younger. You have to in this business, or you just don’y make it. American music is the most competetive in the world. We have two hundred thousand SCHOOL jazz ensembles. Europeans cannot fathom how many American musicians are out there, and much of that has to do with the hundreds of thousands of free band, choral and orchestra programs in the American school systems. Because of the intense competition, American musicians are often honored to play with anyone. With that said, a large number of American musicians will do anything possible to guard their territory. Therefore, in the minds of some misplaced individuals, exclusion is necessary for survival. I remember back in the eighties, when I had a top notch big band. As long as I was the non threatening new guy, everyone was very polite and cooperative. That all changed when I started to become the main guy in my region. That’s when I saw the other side of the music business dynamic. Still, you have to try not to sustain long term animosities. Instead, you try to understand the insecurities inherent of said behavior. Often, the dark stuff begins with the young musicians, although this is not to say that veterans are exempt. Sometimes, these musicians are merely frustrated, immature, or a combination of the two. But, you try not to give up on any one musician, unless they are really asking for trouble. Often, these same people eventually grow up, mature and become positive influences on music.
The same kind of thing applies to Americam intellectual circles, although these people are often loathe to admit their own personal trangressions. There are some for example, who might categorize me as an intellectual light weigt, merely because I do not habitually speak in a manner reminiscent of the conversational dialogue forwarded by Einstein and Tessla in the 1920s. And here I am a Senior Fulbright Scholar. I also write, and you better believe that the literary world does the same thing. That’s exclusion. I wish it did not exist. But, I guess that’s the nature of our business. I once wrote a paper where I used the theory of relativity as a spring board for describing the sentient nature of music. Now imagine me sitting at some table at the club after a gig talking about that? That would exclude me for sure! (laughs).

RCN: Tom Smith, Fulbright Scholar, bandleader, honorary distinguished professor. Thank you very much.

Fulbright Jazz Scores at International Festival

On Sunday, May 19, two Senior Romanian Fulbright Scholars were featured performers at the Richard Oschanitzsky International Jazz festival in Iasi. Tom Smith and Rick Condit performed in separate, but equally acclaimed, concerts that generated no fewer than six curtain calls between them.

Saxophonist Condit (a distinguished alumnus of the 1970s Stan Kenton Band) was warmly received by a familiar Iasi audience that remembered fondly his first 2002 residency at the Enescu School of the Arts. He was joined on stage by acclaimed Swedish pianist Ion Baicu.

Trombonist Smith, a very well known jazz peronality in Romania, preceded Condit with the premier of his high-energy avant garde trio, which also featured Bucharest musicians Vlaicu Golcea and Vlad Popescu.

The Richard Oschanitsky Jazz Festival is an annual three-day event honoring the life of Romania’s most celebrated jazz composer. The concerts were attended by an audience of over 700 people (with over 100 turned away at the door) and were broadcast live on TVR Iasi.

AMERICAN BIG BAND LEADER

Since adopting a jazz policy several years ago, Laptaria Enache has produced outstanding Bucharest concerts by Mircea Tiberian, Austrian saxophonist Nicholas Simeon, and the legendary Johnny Radacannu. Last Thursday’s performance of the National University Big Band was no exception when this popular twenty-member ensemble peeled paint from the club’s narrow walls, and kept an overflow crowd on the edge of its seats.

The presence of a big band in a place not suited for such an ensemble was a novelty in itself. Horn players blared within arms distance of delighted patrons whose heads arched back every time the band performed an especially aggressive passage.

Director Tom Smith took full advantage of the electric atmosphere by programming as many intense selections as possible. These included several compositions from the band’s well known repertoire, and new additions to the book which featured strong solo work from tenor saxophonist Catalene Milea, trombonist Iieronim Pogorelovski, and trumpeter Grig Grigrescu. As always, lead alto saxophonist Alex Simu provided fine solos and excellent student leadership.

The university big band will be on hiatus until March, according to Smith. This is not a surprise since he now leads all three of Bucharest’s outstanding big bands, at least through February. Right now, he prepares the National Radio Big Band for a tribute concert dedicated to Bucharest native Peter Herbolzheimer on February 18, followed by the premier of the 20 in membership National Jazz Ensemble of Romania. This concert will take place Thursday February 27 at Arcub. It will include the long anticipated performance of Carla Bley’s jazz suite “Birds of Paradise,” a performance Smith has dedicated to the fallen astronauts of the space shuttle Columbia. Fulbright Professor Tom Smith will join me in a retrospective of his first four months in Bucharest, and an examination of his former band Unifour Jazz on Radio de Nationale Sunday, February 9 at 15:00. Some Romanians will probably recall Unifour from Radio Free Europe broadcasts before the revolution.

On Monday, December 16, twenty Romanian jazz musicians led by Senior Fulbright Scholar Tom Smith, performed seldom heard Christmas jazz ensemble music, and backed popular Romanian acts ASIA, Voltage and Partizan at Bucharest’s five- thousand seat Paladalui Auditorium. According to Smith, the entire concert, to be broadcast nationally on TVRom 2, December 25 at 9:30 pm and on TVRom 1 at 9:30 pm, was prepared in only six days, adding further credence to his assertions of optimum prowess among the up-start Bucharest jazz community.

One of the evening’s highlights was the performance of Romanian opera star Felicia Felip, who under Smith’s direction entertained the audience with her poignant interpretation of “Silent Night.” The crowd’s sustained cheers were interrupted only by the amazing sight of artificial snow falling from the ceiling’s lofty rafters. The concert ended with Smith’s direction of his band combined with a large military choir. Their performance of Florin Radacanu’s arrangement of a traditional American spiritual, brought this enjoyable
evening to a conclusion.

Reprinted from Curentul, ROMANIA

Datorita perioadei in care toata lumea se pregateste de Sarbatorile Criiciunului si ale Anului Nou, eoneerte de jazz in sali de spectaeol nu au fast, eel pu_ in Capitala, eu 0 singura excep_ie, reusitul recital oferit in data de 4 decembrie de Big Band-ul Universitiitii Natibnale de Muzici din Bueuresti, ehiar “la section,’ in sala George Eneseu,
sub condueerea profesorului, istorieului si eereetatorului american Tom Smith. Programul pretenpos, eu un grad 1nalt de dificultate, a fast prezentat eu nerv si aplomb, intervenpile so[istie-improvizatorice fiind sus_inute de saxofonistii Cristian Soleanu, Alex Simu, Catalin Milea, trompetistii Sebastian Burneci, Mitch Matthews, Laurentiu Moise, pianistul Petru Popa, chitaristul George Dumitriu, bass-istii Arthur Balogh, Radu Dumitriu, bateristul Laurentiu Stefan. Sa nu uitam cii aeest valor os cinar ansamblu stUden_esc si energieul sail dirijor, impreuna eu trioul pianistului profesor Florin Ra. ducanu, au evoluat lolli, 16 deeembrie, la Sail Palatului linde, in eadrul eoncenului umanitar intitulat “Suflet de eopil”, a realizat un ariginalliant sonar intre numerele seeniee aereditate de grupuri rock si pop, de solisti de opera si instrumentisti de foldor. De menponat lansarea, eu 0 saptamana in urm!, a impresionantului disc de eolinde avandu-i drept interpre_i, in uncle eazuri si autari, pe voea!isla Maria Raducanu, pe bass-istul Vlaicu GoIcea, pe ehitaristul Sorin Romanescuj CD-ill de colinde, al cirui prim tiraj fUnd deja eplJizat, se reediteaza in aceste zile, spec a putea fi proeurat din duburile de jazz – ne reo ferim, desigur, Ia cele trei importame Jacasuri de lmalnire a muzidenilor cu fanii lor, dubuJ Laptaria lui Enache din complexui Teatrului Na_ional, Art Jazz Club din subsolul Galerillor de Arta Orizom si Clubul Green Hours de pe Calea Victoriei 120.

Exista lnsa, din pacate, si stiri imristiitoare. Daua disparipi au indoliat de curand lumea jazz-uJui. Unul dintre marii saxofonisti ai lumii, Bob Berg, In varsta de numai 51 de ani (el ne.a fost oaspete In aprilie 1993), si-a pierdut viata lmr-un tragic accident rutier In data de 5 decembrie, automobilul sail ftind distrus lmr-o coliziune cu un carnion greu. Cu trei zile lnainte, In data de 2 decem brie, se stingea dintre cei vii, Ia Bruxelles, capus de cancer, pianistul de culoare Mal Waldrom 10 varsra de 75 de ani. Pe Mal Waldrom, coIaboratorul unui num_r record de muzideni de gen dintre cei mai mari (sa-i amintim doar pe Coleman Hawkins, Billie Holiday, Eric Dolphy, Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, John Coltrane), interpret cu 0 discografie uriasa, I-am aplaudat spre finele deceniuJui trecut Ia Festivalul clujean ,Jazz Napocensis”, unde a evoluat lmpreuna cu vocalista Jeanne Lee si cu saxofonistul Nicolas Simion. _i ftindca vorbim des pre acei minuna_ disparu_ a caror amintire se eternizeaza gratie mostenirii discografice si filrnice, se covine sarememoram ca In ultima zi a acestui an se implinesc 10 ani de cand un mare saxofonist roman de jazz, Dan Mandrila, nu mai este printre nolo Nascut in 1938 la Chisinau, Dan Miindrila a Ufmat cursuri de clarinet Ia ConservatoruJ “Gprian Porumbescu” din Bucuresti, devenind, din 1%3, un membru marcant alorchestrei Eiectrecord, cu care a intreprins 0 serie de tuenee in Germania, Cehoslovacia, PoloRia, Finlanda, Suedia. Considerat In anti 70 until dintre primii exponenti europeni ai saxofonului tenor in jazz, Dan Mandrilii a fast selectat In “East European All Stars Big Band” care a inregistrat si un disc la Fraga (1970) si In grupul “The Nonconvertible All Stars”; a participat Ia importante festivaluri de gen peste hotare (Ljubljana, San Sebastian Spania, Zagreb, fostul Berlin Occidemal, Vaqovia, Fraga), jar 10 lara a lilac parte Ia majoritatea manifestarilor festivaliere, a sus_ut numeroase concerte, a efectuat multe lnregistcari Ia casa Eiectrecord si In studiourile Sodetiipi Romane de Radiodifuziune, ftind 10 uJtimii ani component al Big Band-uJui Radio. Este greu de rezumat In cateva randuri activitatea sa fervema 10 aria muzicii, comributille majore
marcate de elIa evolu_ jazz-Will autohton. Deocamdatii, sa pastram 10 suflete un moment de reculegere 10 amintirea lui.

Dar ftindca viata merge lnafire, sa-i mentionam – spre a-i pastra In memoria noastra afectiva – pe nativii acestei luni: Johnny Raducanu, care a implinit Ia 1 decembrie 71 de ani, bass-istul catalin Rasvan, care pe 14 decembrie a aniversat 42 de ani, trompetistul sibian Leopold Reisenauer (emigrat In 1986 in Germania), care la 18 decembrie si-a sarbatorit 44 de ani de viata, chitaristul timisorean Bela Kamocsa – 58 de ani la 24 decembrie, urmat de pianistul clujean Iancsi Korossy (stabilit acorn mai bine de trei decenii 10 SUA), care va lmplini ‘pe 26 decembrie venerabila varsta de 76 de ani, si dirijorul german de centime international Peter Herbolzheimer (nascut Ia Bucuresti), ce-si va aniversa implinirea a 67 de ani In ultima zi a anului.
, Ce!or care realizeaza ziaru! “Curemul”, ca si cititorilor s:li cele mal bone ganduri si urari de sarbatori, de la mesagerii artel muzicale a creativitatii. La multi ani! si La multjazz! .

Bucuresti Jazz Festival 2002

e la inceputul anilor ’90, de cand la Universitatea Nationala de Muzica din Bucuresti se infiinta, din initiativa lui Mircea Tiberian, prima Clasa I Specializare de jazz din Romania la nivelul unui institut de invatamint superior muzical (actualul rector Prof. Dr. Dan Buciu fiind unul dintre sustinatorii acelui proiect) , interesul pentru jazz al studentilor conservatoristi a crescut constant. Astle!. a aparut cu un an in urma “New Academic Jazz Quartef’, prin vointa unor tineri impatimiti – studentii Alexandru Simu – saxofoane (21 de ani, Universitatea Nationala de Muzica, an III), pianistul Petru Popa (22 de ani. an IV), bass-istul Arthur Balogh (22 ani, an III), bateristul Laurentiu stefan (21 de ani, an II), “New Academic Jazz Quartet”. grup studenlesc vizand proiectia in actualitate a unor mijloace de exprimare tiplce jazz-ului modern, fiind insEt utilizate Ierne din repertoriul international contemporan, I-am aplaudat pentru prima data pe cei patru inzestrati instrumentisti chiar la sediul activitatii lor, cantand pe scena Salii “George Enescu” din stirbei Voda, in deschiderea concertului sustinut in luna martie a,c. de tanara orchestra germana a Gimnaziului din Geretsried. in data de 26 aprilie, Saia ArCuB a gazduit maratonul muzical numit Gala “Academic Jazz” care a etalat, limp de peste patru are, intr-o perindare de patru momente scenice distincte, evidenla unor Idei, concepte, nazuinte si pasiuni specifice reprezentantilor veritabilei pepiniere de talente, depasind prin realizarile lor conditia “invataceilor” aflati in plin proces de formare la scoala artei sunetelor – ne referim la unii participanti, studenti ai Universitatii de Muzica din capitala. si in acest context, “New Academic Jazz Quartet” a !asat 0 buna impresie, in special saxofonistul si pianistul oferind audienlei, etalonul talentului lor improvizatoric. In sesizabil crescendo valoric de la 0 evolutie scenica la alta, grupul s-a prezentat la Cluj (intr-6 formula de Pe la inceputul anilor ’90, de cand la Universitatea Nationala de Muzica din Bucuresti se infiinta, din initiativa lui Mircea Tiberian, prima Clasa I Specializare de jazz din Romania la nivelul unui institut de invatamint superior muzical (actualul rector Prof. Dr. Dan Buciu fiind unul dintre sustinatorii acelui proiect) , interesul pentru jazz al studentilor conservatoristi a crescut constant. Astle!. a aparut cu un an in urma “NewAcademic Jazz Quartef’, prin vointa unor tineri impatimiti – studentii Alexa ndru Simu – saxofoane (21 de ani, Universitatea Nationala de Muzica, an III), pianistul Petru Popa (22 de ani. an IV), bass-istul Arthur Balogh (22 ani, an III), bateristul Laurentiu stefan (21 de ani, an II), “New Academic Jazz Quartet”. grup studenlesc vizand proiectia in actualitate a unor mijloace de exprimare tiplce jazz-ului modern, fiind inset utilizate Ierne din repertoriul international contemporan, I-am aplaudat pentru prima data pe cei patru inzestrati instrumentisti chiar la sediul activitatii lor, cantand pe scena Salii “George Enescu” din stirbei Voda, in deschiderea concertului sustinut in luna martie a,c. de tanara orchestra germana a Gimnaziului din Geretsried. in data de 26 aprilie, Saia ArCuB a gazduit maratonul muzical numit Gala “Academic Jazz” care a etalat, limp de peste patru are, intr-o perindare de patru momente scenice distincte, evidenla unor Idei, concepte, nazuinte si pasiuni specifice reprezentantilor veritabilei pepiniere de talente, depasind prin realizarile lor conditia “invataceilor” aflati in plin proces de formare la scoala artei sunetelor – ne referim la unii participanti, studenti ai Universitatii de Muzica din capitala. si in acest context, “New Academic Jazz Quartet” a lasat o buna impresie, in special saxofonistul si pianistul oferind audientei, etalonul talentului lor improvizatoric. In sesizabil crescendo valoric de la 0 evolutie scenica la componenta augmentata la sapte componenti), cucerind juriul si publicul competitiei muzicale studentesti derulata sub genericul “Jazz Napocensis 2002” (18 – 22 mal); in consecinta, interpretilor bucuresteni Ii s-a atribuit “Marele Premiu” al acestui Festival Concurs in care si-au disputat sansele numerosi tineri din Cluj, lasi, Timisoara, Sibiu si din capitala. Au urmat aparitiile de succes in cadrul Concertului “Academic Jazz” derulat in data de 15 iunie, la Sala “George Enescu” a Universitatii Nationale de Muzica din Bucuresti si, sub denumirea “Petru Papa & Alex Simu Quartet”, la Clubul de jazz “Laptaria lui Enache”, in cadrul manifestarii “La Fete de la Musique” organizata de Institutul Francez din Bucuresti. In recitalul sustinut vineri 18 octombrie la Sala ArCuB, “New Academic Jazz Quartet” ‘a dat din nou masura inzestrarii pentru jazz a tinerilor instrumentisti, de asIa data ei interpretand patru compozitii originale de grup – “Journey”, “Impromptu Roumain”, “Passing By”, “You” – si compozitia profesorului lor Mircea Tiberian, intitulata “Ian us” (in talmacirea careia, Geier patru Ii s-au alaturat saxofonistul Cristian Milea si trompetistul Sebastian Burnecl). . In continuarea serii, am trait 0 surpriza de proportii, urmarind Big band-vi Universitatii Nationale de Muzica din Bucuresti, pnigatit in numai o saptamana si jumatate de repetitii, de reputatul profesor, cercetator si istoric american de jazz – totodata si remarcabil instrumentist la trombon – Tom Smith, adus la noi de Comisia Fulbright. Cu un entuziasm energizant si cu competenta asigurata de 0 indelungata experienta didactica. Tom Smith i-a incitat pe studenli sa dea ce au mai bun, ei reusind sa of ere un notabil n’ivel interpretativ Geier cinci dificile plese alese din repertoriul modern si contemporan al big band-urilor profesioniste de peste ocean “Runaway Hormons”, “Heartland”, “Stolen Moments” (Ia aceasta piesa fiind invitat ca solist saxofonistul Cristian Soleanu, de curand student la amintita Universitate), “The Ring”, “This Is Not For You”. Interpretari investite, gratie ingeniozitatii dirijorului, cu atributele unui autentic show, mult gustat de public!