Being an up-and-coming musician often means getting your foot in as many doors as possible.

Patrick Smith knows all about that. The 24-year-old saxophonist and composer has been spreading himself pretty thin since graduating from the University of Toronto in 2017.

The native of Ottawa leads his own quintet, rounded out by trumpeter Kaelin Murphy, pianist Noah Franche Nolan, bassist Hayden Farrar and drummer Andrew Miller. The group recorded and released an EP of Smith’s original compositions in November, 2018, called Still Searching. He also leads the Patrick Smith Standards Band featuring drummer Terry Clarke, and he plays full-time in a saxophone duo called SALT and in the avant-garde free-jazz group Archives of Eternity, led by Mark Hundevad.

Meanwhile, Smith has been touring extensively with other bands including My Son the Hurricane, Legends of Motown and Chelsea McBride’s Socialist Night School, while playing gigs with a long list of artists and groups based in or visiting Toronto. And of course, playing the wedding-band circuit helps pay the bills.

Smith has also spent time practising, writing and playing in Copenhagen, including a performance of his own music at the Christiania Jazz Club with some of Denmark’s best up-and-coming musicians. After soaking up the Danish jazz scene, he wants to bring some of those performers to Canada.

So, it’s safe to say that Patrick Smith has been busy.

“It’s very hard,” he says. “Since I graduated three years ago, I have not done a good job of staying on top of my own projects as I’ve ended up touring a lot across North America and Europe while trying to develop a freelance career here in Toronto. Now I’m starting to get old enough to realize that my physical and mental health are prerequisites to effective creativity, so I’m focusing on those right now.”

Indeed, Smith remains determined to keep making his own art. With a full-length originals album already under way — though still in its early stages — he’s forging ahead creatively.

We asked this former participant in our Jazzology program to tell us more about his artistic vision and how he maintains balance amid the hectic world of a young musician.