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Canadian Heritage

Bill Smith


WILLIAM (BILL) SMITH (saxophonist, clarinetist, composer) was born May 12, 1938 in Bristol, England. He emigrated to Toronto, Canada in 1963, where he partnered with John Norris in the creation of CODA Magazine, which celebrated its 50th year as a jazz publication in 2008. It was at the same time that Smith and Norris co-founded Sackville Records, the esteemed jazz record label still occupying a prominent place on the international music scene, and still operating with Norris and Smith as co-producers even though Smith now resides on the West Coast of Canada. He is a prolific writer, having written, and continuing to write for CODA as well as other music publications throughout the years. He is also an accomplished photographer whose pictures have frequently been published in international jazz magazines and books.

Although while still living in England he played the trumpet and drums, he later turned his talents primarily to the soprano saxophone, also mastering the difficult sopranino saxophone which he played as a member of the Dutch saxophone sextet, The Six Winds, during two European tours and North American jazz festival appearances during the latter half of the ‘80s.

His first public performances in Canada began in 1973, working with pianist Stuart Broomer. During the same decade, he also performed with the Artists’ Jazz Band, and founded several improv groups including the All-Time Sound Effects Orchestra, the CCMC, Air Raid, the Avant Garde Jazz Revival Band, and the New Art Music Ensemble. Later known as the Bill Smith Ensemble, N.A.M.E. toured Germany, North America, Holland, and England for several years throughout the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Smith also appeared frequently throughout the 1980s as a solo and/or ensemble performer in jazz clubs and festivals all over Canada, the United States, and Europe.

Bill Smith played in two separate “Sound of Toronto Jazz” Concerts at the Ontario Science Centre: as a member of the Stuart Broomer Quartet on April 4, 1977, and with the New Art Music Ensemble on February 25, 1980.