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Red Contributor

Brian Smith


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Born: 1939


Brian Smith started to make his mark in Auckland, New Zealand in 1958. Apart from a stint in Australia working on the Gold Coast for two years, he established himself as an in-demand tenor player backing local and touring musicians.

He moved to London in 1964, performing at Ronnie Scott's and working and touring with the likes of Humphrey Littleton, Alexis Korner, T-Bone Walker, Georgie Fame, Alan Price, Annie Ross, Bing Crosby, Mark Murphy, Jon Hendricks, Nat Adderley, John Dankworth, Gordon Beck and Tubby Hayes. In 1969 he started working in the Maynard Ferguson band, staying with them until 1975 touring and recording.

Brian was a founding member of Ian Carr's Nucleus which won the European Band competition in Montreaux in 1970, resulting in gigs at Newport Jazz Festival and tours of Italy, Germany, Holland and America. He recorded ten albums with Nucleus. He also backed acts like Nancy Wilson, The Small Faces, Eartha Kitt, The Four Tops, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Donovan, Dusty Springfield (DVD Live at the Royal Albert Hall), Bobbie Shew, Sandy Shaw and Lulu.

Brian returned to New Zealand in 1982 and recorded three of his own jazz albums – one, The Brian Smith Quartet was Jazz Album of the Year in 1984 – he also recorded with Space Case, Jackie Fitzgerald, Sustenance (Phil Broadhurst's Band), Shona Laing and appeared regularly in big band and small group performances. He has also been writing and performing on tours with a huge list of top national and international stars. He remains one of New Zealand's most sought after musicians.

One of the many bands Brian played in was Billboard in the mid 1980s, resident band at Club 2 under the Civic in Auckland, with Ian Fraser (drums), Geoff Castle (keyboards), Billy Kristian (bass), the late Martin Winch (guitar) and Beaver (vocals).

Brian has also appeared regularly at Tauranga’s National Jazz festival and the Christchurch Jazz Festival, as well as many other New Zealand Jazz Festivals.

Brian Smith recorded two albums 1990 and 1991 respectively which went became Platinum in New Zealand, Moonlight Sax"reached number 1 on the album charts and Moonlight Sax Two reached number 2. He also released The Moonlight Sax Collection CD - a compilation of both Moonlight Sax and Moonlight Sax Two. In 2005, Brian featured in the album The LA-NZ Connection alongside Rodger Fox, Bill Cunliffe, Larry Koonse, Tom Warrington, Joe Labarbera and Erna Ferry. His current album is “Taupo” which was nominated for Jazz Record of the Year.

Film and TV soundtracks include Came a Hot Friday, Shaker Run, Gloss, Plainclothes, Frontline and numerous commercials. Brian Smith was declared "a national treasure" by Metro Magazine (New Zealand) in an article about his career. Brian lives in Whangaparoa, teaches at the New Zealand School of Music and Northcote College and also provides private tuition.

Brian plays Cannonball Soprano, Alto and Tenor Saxophones, he also plays flutes including bass flute.