The first of our monthly interviews with CMF Artists is with jazz clarinettist Giacomo Smith…
Describe yourself (musically, or otherwise, whichever you’re most comfortable with) in 3 words:
social, inquisitive, hungry (seriously, like 6 meals a day)
You’re originally from the US, what made you come to the UK?
I moved to the UK to work as the Academic Affairs Assistant at Boston University’s London office for 1 year. I quit a year and a half ago to pursue music full-time.
Who do you usually perform with?
Kansas Smitty’s House Band and Big Four and various gypsy jazz outfits in England and Europe.
What has been a performance highlight in your career so far?
Performing on BBC 2’s Friday Night is Music Night with Smitty’s Big Four.
What is coming up in the diary that you are most looking forward to?
In February, Kansas Smitty’s will host a two-day Mardi Gras celebration at The Vaults underneath Waterloo Station. We’ll be playing the music of New Orleans to over 1000 people over two days. That’s something to get excited about!
Do you have a favourite performer? What type of concerts/gigs do you regularly attend?
I enjoy Wynton Marsalis’ performances more than most artists’ (living!). I also enjoy performances from local London musicians like Brian Musinghi Edwards, and Alex Garnet. I guess I mainly attend jazz gigs these days, but some of my favorite artists are Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Paul Lewis, Nicola Benedetti, The Roots, Fleet Foxes, Thomas Quastoff, Patrick Watson, The Dirty Projectors, Kim Burrell, and Kitty, Daisy and Lewis.
Do you compose your own music and if so, how do you approach this?
I do, but I don’t have a very efficient approach! The most effective approach for me has been to share composition ideas with the members of my band and see how they can spur me on to a finished product. At one of our recent rehearsals, a simple drum beat and melody idea became a full-fledged composition in a matter of minutes.
How did you find out about CMF and why did you decide to apply?
Jennie Cashman-Wilson and Sebastian Scotney both suggested CMF to me. They advised that it was not just a grant, but a 2-year coaching program that would help with necessary skills exclusive of performance.
What are your hopes for the future?
To continue making a living playing fulfilling and meaningful music.
Finally, your 3 desert island discs?
Only 3??? Sidney Bechet on Blue Note, Louis Armstrong 1934-1936, Golden Gate Gospel Quartet 1937 Vol. 1
Read more about Giacomo and listen to some performances here.