University of Virginia Offers Free Concert by Renowned Jazz Percussionist Warren Smith

February 6, 2008 — The University of Virginia's Arts Administration Program and the McIntire Department of Music will present master percussionist Warren Smith in concert on Wednesday, Feb. 27 at Satellite Ballroom in Charlottesville, Va. Doors open at 7 p.m.; the performance starts at 8 p.m. Admission is free. The first set will be a solo performance, followed by a jam-format second set.

Smith's performance comes as part of a four-day stint in Charlottesville. His visit also will include classroom lectures and jazz ensemble master classes. Traveling with him will be his brother, Frank Smith, an artist and painter recently retired from the Howard University faculty, who will give a lecture for the Studio Art Department.

Warren Smith, a retired professor at the State University of New York's College at Old Westbury, has been a seminal figure in the jazz community since the late 1950s. He is the founder of one of the first and longest-running education and performance lofts in New York City, Studio WIS, and has been an essential element in the development and definition of Afro-American music over the past several decades.

Smith has performed, toured and recorded with jazz greats Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Makanda Ken McIntyre, Sam Rivers, Gil Evans, George Russell, Dave Holland, Muhal Richard Abrams and others. Smith was a charter member of the late Max Roach's percussion ensemble, M'Boom.

He also made his mark beyond the jazz world, playing with Janis Joplin, Dionne Warwick, Harry Bellafonte, Nat King Cole, Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight and on Van Morrison's celebrated "Astral Weeks" album, as well as with iconoclastic instrument builder Harry Partch.

Beginning as a teenager selected to play in the first touring production of "West Side Story," Smith had a continuing side career in Broadway pit orchestras, playing for "Dreamgirls," "Jelly's Last Jam" and others. Smith was selected by ABC TV to be on the drum kit for the 50th anniversary concert of The Apollo Theater in Harlem. Downbeat Magazine has called him "... a sonic explorer whose combinations of percussive stimuli define a broad spectrum of textures, timbres and polyrhythmic overlays."