SMITH, Bill




Author Tags: Music

William E. (Bill Smith) was born in Bristol, England on May 12th, 1938 and immigrated to Canada in 1963. As a young man he played drums and trumpet casually in England. He now plays E-flat & C soprano saxophones and drums.

Place of residence: Hornby Island, BC

Arrival in BC - May 1989


BOOKS:

2011 - Music IS Rapid Transportation ...from the Beatles to Xenakis (ISBN 978-1-895166-04-0) Writer/Photographer (Canada)
2011 - Rant & Dawdle - The Fictional Memoir of Colston Willmott (ISBN 978-1-895166-06-4) Writer/Photographer (Canada)
2010 - Albert Ayler: témoignages sur un Holy Ghost (ISBN : 9782915378887) Photographer (France)
1995 - Mixtery (ISBN 1-873012-97-7) Writer/Photographer (Collection) England
1993 - New Musical Figurations (ISBN 0-226-70196-4) Photographer (United States)
1986 - Routes (ISBN 0-919357-64-8) Photographer (Canada)
1986 - Into The Night Life (ISBN 0-88971-108-9 Writer/Photographer (Collection) (Canada)
1985 - Imagine The Sound (ISBN 0-99971-103-8) Writer/Photographer (Canada)
1978 - Jazz Styles (ISBN 0-13-509877-7) Photographer (United States)

Biographical Details:

Bill Smith, saxophonist, clarinetist, composer, writer, editor, graphic designer, photographer, record and film producer was born in Bristol, England on May 12th 1938 and immigrated to Canada in May of 1963. His first introduction to the Toronto scene was with his life-long friend John Norris with whom he co-produced the Canadian jazz periodical Coda Magazine, Sackville Recordings and its subsidiary label Onari Records. The latter label recorded music of the then burgeoning new music scene and released recordings of improvised music by Stuart Broomer, Maury Coles, Paul Cram, Lloyd Garber, Randy Hutton and Peter Moller, and his own ensemble. From 1963 until 1976 he served as the magazine’s art director, from 1976 until 1983 he co-edited it with bassist/writer David Lee, and subsequently as sole editor. Coda was sold to Warwick Publications in 2001.

He currently resides on Hornby Island, British Columbia, where he continues the above activity with artists of all disciplines in his community. His large collection of photographs of musicians are still in demand with record companies, and magazine and book publishers. His photographs also appear in a variety of gallery shows, locally and nationally.

Smith has written extensively for Coda and also has contributed to other music publications. His photographs have appeared in North American and European jazz magazines and in books. He also co-produced the feature-length award winning documentary film “Imagine The Sound” with film maker Ron Mann. The film features American musicians trumpeter Bill Dixon, saxophonist Archie Shepp, and pianist Cecil Taylor, and the Canadian pianist Paul Bley.

Having played drums and trumpet in England before 1963, he took up the soprano saxophone during a sojourn there (1966-67), studying with South African saxophonist Ronnie Beer and, after his return to Toronto, with classical saxophonist Paul Brodie, the legendary saxophonist Brian Barley, and James Warburton. He began performing publicly in 1973 with the pianist Stuart Broomer and was a founder during the later 1970s of a succession of groups devoted to free improvisation in its various forms: the All-Time Sound Effects Orchestra, the Canadian Creative Music Collective (CCMC) of which he was a member alongside Michael Snow, Larry Dubin, Casey Sokol, among others, from 1974 until 1977; the Avant Garde Revival Orchestra (AGRO), Air Raid, and the New Art Music Ensemble (N.A.M.E.). He also began to perform with the Artists’ Jazz Band whose members included painters Gordon Rayner, Graham Coughtrey and Robert Markle.

N.A.M.E., which became the Bill Smith Ensemble in 1980, comprised the violinist David Prentice and the bassist and cellist David Lee, variously assisted during the decade by the vibraphonist Larry Potter, the drummers Richard Bannard and Stich Wynston, and the guitarist Arthur Bull, plus a variety of invited guests including Leo Smith, Joe McPhee, Roscoe Mitchell and Jullius Hemphill. The ensemble toured Canada with the German trombonist Gunter Christmann in 1979 and on its own several times during the 1980s; its Canadian itinerary included concerts in galleries and cultural centres and a week’s residency at Expo ‘86 in Vancouver. The ensemble performed in 1982 in England and Holland; its US engagements included concerts at Soundscape in New York and DC Space in Washington. As The Last of the Red Hot Dadas the ensemble created improvised accompaniment for silent films in Toronto and on tours of the Maritimes and northern Ontario. Smith also has prepared scores for several contemporary films and videos and has collaborated with a variety of performance artists in sound poetry and mixed-media events.

As the sopranino saxophonist from 1986 to 1988 with The Six Winds, a Dutch-based saxophone sextet, he twice toured Europe and in 1988 performed at several Canadian jazz festivals. He has also appeared in Canadian, US, and European clubs and festivals as a soloist and/or in the company of his European contemporaries - e.g., with saxophonist Evan Parker at the 1986 Berlin Jazz Festival, with Parker and/or saxophonist Wolfgang Fuchs, the founder and leader of the improvising King Übü Örchestrü, on tour in Canada (including the *Festival International de musique actuelle de Victoriaville) in 1988, and with Fuchs and the electronic sound manipulator Georg Katzer on tour in East Germany in 1989.

Smith moved to Hornby Island, BC, in 1989 but continued to edit Coda and toured in a multi-media program, Duck Soup, with Arthur Bull. Playing, for the most part, sopranino, soprano saxophone and alto clarinet in these settings, Smith has fashioned a modest, conversational free improvisatory style that finds a generally lyrical median between his US and European influences. Among his compositions, which have a functional simplicity and brevity that dispense quickly with formality, are the compositions A-Configuration, First Jump, Up [A Love Song] For Captain Robot, Little Boo, Bones & Giggles, Interludes, Oops, Three Simple Songs, Sofort, Pick a Number, Rituals, Little Bits, Home At Last and Tickle Yer Fancy all of which have been recorded.

[BCBW 2011]