The world’s most recorded bassoonist Daniel Smith dies, aged 77

By Matt Micucci

He was one of the few bassoonists recording and performing in both Jazz and Classical music.

Daniel Smith, the most recorded bassoon soloists in the world, and one of the few bassoonists recording and performing in both jazz and classical music passed away on December 19, 2015 in Brooklyn, NY. The cause of his death was an aggressive infection that led to cardiac arrest.

His unique career has been profiled in numerous publications, described as the ‘Gerry Mulligan of the Bassoon’ in the world of jazz, and the ‘Rampal of the Bassoon’ in classical music.

Smith has recorded numerous discs, with repertoire ranging from Baroque concerti to contemporary music, including jazz with a quartet under his own leadership, ragtime, and crossover.

He studied music at Manhattan School of Music, Columbia University and The Mannes College of Music.

Smith’s passion for music started early. As a teenager, he would travel from his home in The Bronx to attend many jazz shows to hear the performances of all the greats of the time, such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Lionel Hampton. In his early twenties, he started playing saxophone with several Big Bands, including the Cab Calloway Orchestra.

He became the first bassoonist to have recorded all 37 Vivaldi bassoon concertos with the English Chamber Music Orchestra and I Solisti di Zagreb. The 3-CD box set of 37 Vivaldi Concerts was recently re-released by the label Deustch Gramophone/Decca in England and is a very sought out item in their catalog which features top performers of the classical genre.

He was currently working on one of his latest projects, Big Band Bassoon with pianist and arranger Robert Boscher from Holland, in which he aimed to update his favorite Big Band numbers with his trademark bassoon solos and exquisite arrangements.

His latest release on the label Summit, Jazz Suite for Bassoon, featured an original composition of the same name by British composer Steve Gray, and won critical acclaim by music media.

A two-disc The Best of was in the works for the label Decca in UK. A concert was planned for this spring in England with an orchestra. In addition Mr. Smith was working on an orchestral piece with the Brazilian composer João McDowell to be premiered in Brazil in the near future.

A Memorial concert to celebrate his life in music will be held in 2016.

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