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Tyrone Smith

Tyrone Smith

Tyrone Smith

At what point in your life did you make the decision to become a professional musician and actually record your own albums?

I have yet to consciously declare that. Truth is the only decision Iíve made is to have a positive effect on others and to be happy. In making that decision what I found was the only way I could fulfill both those promises I made to myself was through music. In order to be happy I have to do what I love and in doing what I love I found itís a way to positively effect people. Kind of a prearranged marriage of my soul and destiny is the way I tend to see it.

What elements do you look for in a song that makes it especially satisfying for you to perform?

There is only one element for me and thatís Soul. If I canít connect with a song on a true depth value its best I donít even attempt to perform it. An honest secret about me, I actually have a really hard time memorizing songs that I cant get that type of connection with. I take it as a sign, a sign that I have no business playing that song in the first place if it doesnít resonate in that deep honest place in my heart.

Of your touring and gigs so far in your career, do any stand out as being particularly memorable or defining moments?

Thatís an easy one. In í06 at the Beacon Awards Gala whose honorees that year were Ed Bradley, Barry Harris, Roy Haynes, & Jon Hendricks; I was to perform a set dedicated to Jon Hendricks during the Gala. Now to be clear on the scenario let me list the band for that dedication set: Lonnie Plaxico (bass), Vic Juris (gtr), Junior Mance (piano), Bernard Purdie (drums), Al Jarreau (vocals), last and least Tyrone Smith (sax). Is the intimidation value clear? Good. As if that wasnít scary enough the guest attending this gala were Bill Cosby, George Wein, Billy Taylor, Wynton Marsalis, Chico Hamilton etc etc. Not a name-dropping attempt, moreover trying to clarify the mindset of this youngster at the time.

Be it this was a specially put together band and not our normal grouping there was a rehearsal a couple hours before the event. One of the charts that had been written out had some errors that were confusing the band and causing conflict for this tune. The situation was clear, understandably none of these living legends wanted to step on each others toes to make a stand on how to execute the tune; but a younger and possibly dumber Tyrone decided to take over rehearsal, blare out directions and a plan to play the song effectively.

We re-rehearsed the song with the changes I had suggested & it went flawlessly. That was a wrap, everyone walked away from the bandstand not saying a word except for me shell shocked in disbelief of what I had just done, Did I really just blurt out directions to a group of legends? I was horrified. Bernard Purdie approached me with a comment that I will never forget, ď Ty, not many people I know would have done what you just did. I just wanted to tell you that `You Done Good`.Ē Finally after what seemed like an eternity I could breathe again.

In a business and art form that can bring so much self-doubt, I can honestly say since that moment I have never questioned or doubted my musical ability. That moment reassured me of my belief that I could do this thing called music on whatever level I set my mind to.

If you were magically allowed to spend an hour with whomever you chose in historyÖ alive or deadÖ and really be able to get inside their head, who would that be?

Miles Davis. For me Miles symbolizes a true boundary-less perspective, and thatís something I strive for. I strive to be open to everything, to remain able perceive as many viewpoints as possible while still being able to maintain a solid viewpoint of my own. Both in music and life/knowledge Miles seemed to always be striving for that universally applicable vibe that I find immensely inspiring. One of my favorite Miles quotes: ďGood music is good no matter what kind of music it is.Ē If I could have an hour, preferably more, to get to vibe with a personality that was able to sustain such a depth from both a knowledge and musical standpoint; I feel that would be infectiously inspiring.

How would you finish this sentence? ďI donít like to go a day without_________?

ďI donít like to go a day without Positivity & LoveĒ

Those two words, which I happen to have tattooed on each wrist, carry a lot of weight for me. Each day I try to find a way to spread the notion of meaning behind these concepts with great hopes that inspire others to adopt the non-negotiable perspective to do all things with Positivity and Love.

What are you most proud of at this point in your life and career?

What I am most proud of is being at this point, at this level and still being me. That may not translate well for some so let me clarify. When you seek out opportunities especially those in the public eye; pressure is increasingly applied for one to configure to Boxes, Categories, or Labels that have been casted out before us. So to me the notion that I have been able to accomplish what I have so far; coming from where I came from, without succumbing to outside influences of others to get me to do/be what THEY want me to be is something I am very proud of. I arrived here on my own terms and hope that all my supporters continue to support Me for who and what I am rather than who or what I should be; and for that I am eternally grateful.

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