Smith III Joins Berklee As Chair Of Woodwind Department

Mike Lawson • News • April 15, 2019

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Berklee has named saxophonist Walter Smith III as chair of the Woodwind Department. Smith, a Berklee alumnus who recently released his fifth album as a leader, is widely recognized as an accomplished performer and composer, and an inspired educator.

Smith takes up the position on May 1.

“Bill Pierce has left a strong legacy of excellence and achievement which we will continue to build on, looking towards the future with an emphasis on creating more opportunities for the students in the constantly evolving musical landscape,” said Smith. “I can’t wait to get to work with the world-class woodwind faculty as we continue to provide the perfect environment for the world’s most talented young musicians.” 

“Returning to Berklee is very special to me since it’s the place where my whole career in music began,” he added. “Much of the faculty that I was mentored by and worked with during my time in school are still at Berklee in some capacity, making it feel like home.”

“I am tremendously excited about Walter re-joining our community. His success as a performer, educator and jazz artist will help lead our school into the future,” said Ron Savage, dean of the Professional Performance Division. “I am happy for our students, faculty and staff alike. Walter Smith is a worthy heir to the Berklee legacy left by Bill Pierce, Andy McGhee and many others.”

In the jazz tradition, Smith developed under the wings of many of the greats. He is or has been a member of several legendary groups, recording and touring with artists including the Roy Haynes Fountain of Youth Band, Terence Blanchard Quintet, Eric Harland’s Voyager, Jason Moran’s In My Mind: Monk at Town Hall 1959, Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet, A Christian McBride Situation, Christian Scott Group and the Sean Jones Quintet.

Originally from Houston, Texas, Smith comes to Berklee from Indiana University, where he served as associate professor of jazz studies.

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