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Erik Smith


Equally at home in a jazz trio, big band or in high energy pop and rock settings, Erik Smith is one of Scandinavias leading drummers. His brilliant technique and versatility has been turning peoples heads since he first sat in with his fathers band at the age of 5.

Erik Smith was born 1965 in Hønefoss, a small town near Oslo in Norway. His first exposure to music was through his parents. His father is a trumpet player /drummer and his mother sings and plays the piano. At 2-3 years of age, Erik started to take interest in music, especially rhythm and drum-like sounds. He constructed his own drumset from pots, pans and other appliances and after being old enough to barely reach the pedals on his fathers drumset, he learned the fundamentals and basic grooves. At age 6 he started taking classical piano lessons along with playing the drums. He played a lot by ear on the piano, especially jazz standards and ragtime along with Mozart, Bach, Grieg, Chopin, Schubert and many more.

Versatility
From age 12 Erik became a permanent member of his fathers band, playing everything from old Norwegian folk music to Jazz and Rock'nRoll. He also started playing in a local big band, even further developing his abilities to play different musical styles and to read drum charts. At age 15, he got into the scene in Norways capital, Oslo. He played jazz club dates with different bands as well as freelance work such as recording jingles and radio specials for NRK (Norways national broadcasting). The ball started rolling, and along with school, Erik managed to lay a good foundation for his career.
After serving one year in the military as part of "His Majesty The Kings Guards Music and Drill Troup ",after wich he received a scholarship for "Outstanding musical and military service" , he went on to build his reputation as a very versatile, musical and technically outstanding drummer. He got heavily into all the aspects of Oslo's music/entertainment scene doing both concert/club live gigs as well as studio work and theatre/show/musical work. At 21, he became the youngest member ever to join the now discontinued NRK Radio Big Band wich featured many of Norways jazz heavyweights. He also worked with his own 8 piece "Erik Smith band".

Big band work
Around this time he met bandleader/composer/arranger/trombonist Jens Wendelboe who had just returned from studies and leading his own big band in New York. He immidiately got impressed by Erik's playing and started employing him on TV shows, big band concerts/records and in smaller jazz settings (go to Wendelboes website to listen to clips from these recordings!). Erik's TV and show credits includes nearly every Scandinavian performer in the music and entertainment field and many of the worlds greatest artists visiting Norway. Some of them include; Michael Bolton , Neil Sedaka , Art Garfunkel, Randy Crawford, Al Jarreau, Engelbert Humperdinck , Carlene Carter, Lisa Nilsson , Sissel Kyrkjebø, Jahn Teigen, Morten Harket, Tor Endresen, Øyvind Elgenes, Frode Alnes, Lill Babs, Lill Lindfors, Tanita Tikaram and Donna Summer whom he also worked with as part of her European rhythm section doing gigs all over Europe.

Wendelboe also started what became the "Oslo Groove Company", a big band consisting of young instrumentalists and composers. The band has recorded 3 CD's this far, one of wich received the "Spellemanns" award (Norways Grammy) for best jazz CD. The Groove Company has also performed with many top names of jazz through its 10+ years existence, such as; Hector Bingert (Swedish sax player), Django Bates , Niels Petter Molvær, Jens Winther(Danish trumpeter/composer), Nils Landgren (Swedish trombone star), clarinet virtuoso Eddie Daniels and Bob Mintzer.

Other artists Erik have worked with in the big band idiom includes jazz vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater, european trombone "god" Bart van Lier, German lead alto Klaus Graf, NY sax men Daniel Wilensky and Andy Middleton, Andy Sheppard, Ed Palermo (playing the music of Frank Zappa for big band!) ,David Zalud (ex Buddy Rich, NY first call session player), Stu Sataloff (ex Elvis Presley and Buddy Rich trumpeter) and Norwegian players such as Frank Brodahl (Norways finest lead trumpet player), Lars Erik Gudim ("the" arranger!) and many others.

Another big band outing was Erik's Tribute to Buddy Rich, broadcasted live on national radio in 1996. Erik led the band and hosted the show at Oslo's most popular music club "Smuget"

Erik is also the original member of keyboard player Haakon Graf's band "Grafitti". The band has made many appearences throughout Scandinavia and in the US with their "mercyless" funk/fusion music. "Grafitti" has also toured succsessfully in scandinavia with ex. Chick Corea guitar player Frank Gambale.

Erik is the first Norwegian drummer to be extensively involved with some of the worlds major drum products manufacturers. He enjoys fruitful relationships with Yamaha Drums, Zildjian Cymbals, ProMark Sticks, Evans Drum heads and Shure Microphones. He is the first "non american" drummer to have great succsess in doing clinics in Scandinavia in support of these companies. His band , the Erik Smith Trio featuring english keyboard virtuoso Roy Powell and bass player extraordinaire Frode Berg is also involved in Clinics/concerts for Yamaha throughout Scandinavia. Other activities on the Clinic circuit has featured "duo" clinics with Japans number one drum hero Akira Jimbo (go to gallery 4 and 5 for photos!) and a band consisting of guitar legend Georg Wadenius (Steely Dan , Donald Fagen, Blues Brothers, Roberta Flack) and Frode Berg on bass.

Teaching/clinics
Erik does clinics for Yamaha, Evans, Pro Mark and Zildjian as well as teaching drums privately when his schedule permits. He also writes a regular column on drumming in Norway's main music magazine, Musikkpraksis

"I have been teaching drums since I was 16 years old and I have always enjoyed it a lot. Putting what you do into words and trying to convey your ideas to aspiring drummers of all levels is in itself a great learning process !"

"My teaching method is highly practical and musical, dealing with each students individual needs. I also find it extremely important to prepare my students for a life as a pro musician. There are many aspects besides just being a good player! I put emphasis on being versatile and well rounded in as many styles as possible thus preparing my students for a better shot at a professional career."

"I still teach when my schedule permits. I always have room for dedicated, serious students of the instrument! See information below how to get in touch if you are in the above mentioned category!"

Clinics
"I have been involved in doing clinics for a number of years. This is also a great way to get out there and play and to meet a lot of nice, dedicated people. I'm really proud to be the first Norwegian drummer to do extensive clinics and to see the overwhelming turnouts and response. Thanks to all of you who keep turning out for the great support!"

"The latest "hot news" is that my TRIO is available for concert/clinics through Yamaha. These events are highly musical in content with lots of fun playing as well as insights into the approach and role of each musician in the band. Frode Berg (bass) and Roy Powell (keyboards) are both amazing musicians as well as experienced teachers so there is something here for everybody!"

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