This week we feature pianist Josh Smiley, who participated in Jazzology in 2013.
Originally from Hamilton, Ontario, Josh completed his studies at Mohawk College, studying with Adrean Farrugia. Graduating from Mohawk with Honours, he received numerous scholarships including the Richard Newell Memorial Scholarship and the Antony Roberts Music Excellence Award. Following his move to Toronto, he began studies at the University of Toronto, where he works with David Restivo, Mike Murley, Chase Sanborn, and Gordon Foote.
Josh has performed with the Hamilton All Star Jazz Band at jazz festivals across Canada and throughout Europe. He also currently leads his own piano trio, which performs at various venues around the city.
Taking some time away from is studies, Josh describes his experience in the Jazzology program and fills us in on his recent musical activities:
1) Describe your experience with the Jazzology program. What was your favourite aspect?
I was honoured and excited about being asked to do the Jazzology program while in my third year at Mohawk College. Upon arrival at JAZZ.FM91 I was fairly nervous, probably due to the fact that I was already a frequent listener at that point. But I immediately was comforted by everyone I interacted with because of how inviting and friendly they were. I think my favourite aspect was how open and nice everyone was and especially the relaxed atmosphere Brad Barker created in the interview because I had never done anything like that before.
2) What is your strongest memory of the Jazzology program? Are there any funny stories or incidents that come to mind?
My strongest memory was sitting in the studio and talking to Brad and it being a bit surreal because I had heard his voice on the radio so many times!
3) Would you recommend this experience to other young musicians?
Yes, I would definitely recommend this experience to other young musicians. It is an amazing program and it is the first real radio air time for most of the participants. To actually see and go through the process of not only doing the interview but also preparing for it made it a very rewarding experience.
4) How has this experience helped in your personal and professional development?
Jazzology helped me to better understand how some aspects of the business side of music work. I had never done any recordings of my own material before that and to actually have to do the preparation was very rewarding.
5) This program is made possible by our generous donors and sponsors who strongly believe in the importance of arts education initiatives. If you had the opportunity to thank them in person, what would you say?
Thank you very much for your donations. You are giving an amazing opportunity for many young musicians trying to start a career. It has been an important part of the development of my music career.
6) Why is music education important?
It is important because it is sometimes the only outlet for young musicians trying to make it to the next level to interact with professionals who can help them get there.
7) Since participating in the program, what have you been doing?
Since Jazzology I finished Mohawk’s program and transferred into the University of Toronto’s Jazz program. I’ve had many great opportunities to play with new people and in new places, thanks in big part to UofT and its faculty. Musically I am playing in as many groups as possible, but I really enjoy focusing on my trio and building that relationship with my bandmates.
8) What music are you listening to at the moment that you find particularly inspiring?
Right now I am listening to a lot of Oscar Peterson, Benny Green, and Phineas Newborn Jr. These three pianists are very inspiring to me because of the energy and soul they emit while playing. They play a lot of swinging music that I find myself gravitating towards most of the time.
9) What are your plans for the future?
My plan for the future is to finish my last year at UofT and then see what happens after that – potentially teaching but I would like to be performing as much as possible.
10) How can people learn more about you and your activities?
I am currently working on a website, so hopefully one will come up soon if you search my name.
11) Is there anything else that you want to add?
Thanks for the opportunity to be on this program!
Jazzology is proudly sponsored by RBC Emerging Artists Project.
About RBC and the Arts
RBC sponsors a wide-range of grassroots and local initiatives that contribute to the cultural fabric of our communities. Proud to support events and passions that resonate with our clients and all Canadians, RBC provides opportunities for up-and-coming artists through programs such as the RBC Canadian Painting Competition, one of the largest competitions of its kind in the world; and the RBC Emerging Filmmakers Competition, part of our commitment as the Official Bank and major sponsor of the world’s top public film festival – the Toronto International Film Festival®.