Joel LaRue Smith, BA, MM

Part-Time Lecturer, Jazz Ensemble

Touring extensively throughout the U.S., Europe, Asia , Central America and the Caribbean, Joel LaRue Smith has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the Whitney Museum in New York; The White House; Symphony Hall in San Francisco and Boston; The Royal Albert Hall in London; Multi-Cultural Festivals; and various noted jazz clubs like the Blue Note and The Village Gate in New York City. He has performed with the New York Philharmonic at the Apollo Theatre in New York, The Toledo Symphony, The French National Orchestra, Mario Bauza, Kenny Burrell, Junior Cook and Wayne Andre. In 1993 a World Premiere of Joel’s original compositions were featured in Siena, Italy. Tours for 2010 included the Guatemala Jazz Festival, The Hellinic Music Festival in Athens Greece, and various Jazz Clubs in the Czech Republic.

Joel LaRue Smith has been the Director of The Jazz Orchestra & Jazz Studies at Tufts University since 1996. Under his direction, the Tufts Jazz Orchestra toured Cuba ’03, Prague ’04 & ’07, and Costa Rica and was invited to perform at Jazz at Lincoln Center in ‘07.  In the summer of 2006 the Tufts University Big Band debut CD was released. In addition, he has presented master classes and clinics at national and international universities. His credits include being the Keyboardist/Bandleader to the Boy’s Choir of Harlem, composing for cable television, commercial jingles, a series of Spanish children’s stories and “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”.

His debut CD, “September’s Child”, featuring several original compositions, was released in the Winter of 2009.
Both his debut CD of solo piano classical music and his next Afro-Cuban Jazz CD, “The Motorman’s Son”, will be released in the winter of 2011. Publications include “The Music of Joel LaRue Smith”, a collection a original compositions, and to be released in the fall of 2010, “Explorations in Jazz Improvisation”.

Joel has performed and shared the stage with Kenny Burrell, Ron Carter, Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, Mario Bauza, Joe Cuba, The Boy’s Choir of Harlem, Tony Bennett, James De Priest and the New York Philharmonic. He is the winner of the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation jazz competition and his quintet was selected to appear on BET’s “Jazz Discovery.” In addition, he was a student of the great Mario Bauza, who taught him that, “even more important than the clave is the necessity to successfully capture the raw sensuality and unbridled joy of Cuban music.”

As a pianist, arranger and composer, Joel’s talent and commitment bring a unique passion to music. His music incorporates emotional and cultural diversities, traveling Afro-Cuban rhythmic patterns, to Jazz harmonic music, to classical music; creating a tapestry of musical themes in his playing and compositions. What results is a sound colored with unpredictable delights, imagination, playfulness, rich textures and passion, as he searches for ways to redefine musical experience, while integrating deep-rooted traditions.

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