Contrabass Conversations double bass life

521: Herbert Smith on Brazil and his path there

Sept. 13, 2018

Herbert Smith has had a remarkable career spanning a variety of musical genres.  Originally from Chicago, Herbert spent many years in Southern California prior to his move to São Paulo, Brazil eight years ago.

We dig into similarities and differences between the musical scenes of Brazil and the United States, Brazilian musical traditions, language and how it affects the music of a specific culture, Herbert’s interesting life path, business skills, and much more!

About Herbert:

Herbert D. Smith currently lives in São Paulo, Brazil.  He has had a diverse international performance career for over 20 years, performing with tenor saxophone greats like Eddie Harris, Teddy Edwards, and Buddy Collette, pianists Art Hillery, Harold Land Jr., Ted Jackson, John Wood and George Cables, jazz vocalist Elaine Miles, guitarists Steve Cotter and John Chiodini, Mexican vocal stylist Sandra Valdivia, Capitol Records blues singer Betty Hall Jones, Basie trombonist Jimmie Cheatham, Dr. Ronald V. Myers, great jazz drummers Clayton Cameron of the Tony Bennett and Sammy Davis Jr. bands, the legendary Billy Higgins and Sherman Ferguson.

As an orchestra section bassist, he has performed under Maestros Dr. Herbert Blomstedt and Dr. Jon Robertson in the Blomstedt Summer Orchestra, Riverside, California.   Smith also performed with the New American Orchestra in Hollywood under Music Director and Conductor Dr. Luther Henderson, and was Principal Bassist of the Riverside Civic Light Opera Orchestra.  Prior to coming to Brazil, Smith performed World Music for 3 years as house bassist at the Orange County California nightly "hotspot" “ The Caspian “ in Irvine, California.

Smith was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois.  He started his music education at the famed Chicago Music College (CMC) of Roosevelt University. CMC former students consisted of Robert Lamm of the rock group "Chicago" and Jazz Saxophonist Steve Coleman of the Thad Jones Mel Lewis Orchestra. Through the advice and recommendation of the late Chicago Symphony Bassist Warren Benfield, Smith traveled to Madison Wisconsin to study with Jazz Bassist Richard Davis at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, then on to Milwaukee with Laura Synder currently with the Milwaukee Symphony. Smith received a scholarship to study in the Jazz Program at Livingston College of Rutgers University in Livingston, New Jersey under the direction of Bassist Larry Ridley. 

As a young bassist in his 20's, Smith became the founder of the Los Angeles Bass Violin Choir, a group of prominent Los Angeles area bassists performing special arrangements by Smith and New York bassist Bill Lee. Bill Lee, father of director Spike Lee, and founder of the New York Bass Violin Choir, premiered many unique compositions and arrangements in his son's earlier films. Regular players consisted of Frederick Tinsley, the late Andy Simpkins, Herbie Lewis and George "Red" Callendar, John Heard, and classical double bass extraordinaire Bertram Turetsky. Additional players to perform with the bass choir were bassists Roberto Miranda, James Leary and Alan Jackson. Drummers Sherman Ferguson and Bill Douglass, and Pianist Cecil Lytle also performed with the choir. 

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Kolstein Music

The Samuel Kolstein Violin Shop was founded by Samuel Kolstein in 1943 as a Violin and Bow making establishment in Brooklyn, New York. Now on Long Island, over 60 years later, Kolstein’s has built a proud reputation for quality, craftsmanship and expertise in both the manufacture and repair of a whole range of stringed instruments, and has expanded to a staff of twelve experts in restoration, marketing and production.

Upton Bass String Instrument Company

Upton's Karr Model Upton Double Bass represents an evolution of our popular first Karr model, refined and enhanced with further input from Gary Karr. Since its introduction, the Karr Model with its combination of comfort and tone has gained a loyal following with jazz and roots players. The slim, long “Karr neck” has even become a favorite of crossover electric players.

D'Addario Strings

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