INTERVIEW WITH DR. J.B. SMITH

Dr. J.B. Smith is a reknown percussionist who produced and performed on Apparitions for Percussion, an album featuring Akira Ifukube's Lauda Concertata for Marimba and Orchestra. Dr. Smith performs the marimba solo on that recording.

Dr. Smith is presently a Professor of Music and the Coordinator of Percussion Studies in the School of Music at Arizona State University. He is director of the ASU Contemporary Percussion Ensemble which was featured in performances at the 1991 and 2002 Percussive Arts Society International Conventions. As a member of the Desert's Edge Clarinet-Percussion Duo with Dr. Robert Spring, Dr. Smith performed at the Music Educator's National Conference in 1994 and the 1992, 1995, 2002 and 2004 Clarinet Fest International Conferences. He served as principal percussionist with Ensemble 21, a contemporary music group under the direction of Arthur Weisberg, and as principal percussionist with The Daniel Lentz Group which performed at the Interlink Festival in Los Angeles, the Bang on a Can Festival in New York and the Festival Musica Visual in Lanzarote, Canary Islands. He has also recorded and performed with the internationally acclaimed Summit Brass and the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra. He has recorded for Koch, Summit, Centaur, Rhizome Sketch, Fontec, Leo, Canyon Records and Whole>Sum Productions. His CDs Apparitions for Percussion, First Reflections and At the Desert's Edge are available at www.amazon.com.

He received his Bachelor of Music Education degree from Baylor University where he studied with Dr. Larry Vanlandingham, his Master of Music in Percussion Performance and Literature degree from the University of Illinois where he studied with Prof. Thomas Siwe and his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of North Texas where he studied with Dr. Robert Schietroma. Previously, Dr. Smith was on the music faculties of Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas and Humboldt State University in Arcata, California. He has written articles for The Instrumentalist, The Canadian Band Journal and Percussive Notes and served as president of the Arizona chapter of the Percussive Arts Society. In 1995, he hosted the Percussive Arts Society International Convention in Phoenix.

Dr. Smith is active as a composer, with numerous works published by C. Alan Publications.

As a clinician, he has appeared at the Texas Bandmasters Convention in 1997, the 1998 Music Educator's National Conference and the 1998 and 2004 Percussive Arts Society International Conventions. Dr. Smith proudly endorses Pearl Drums, Adams Percussion, Zildjian Cymbals, Mike Balter Mallets, and Grover Pro Percussion.

AKIRAIFUKUBE.ORG's webmaster, Erik Homenick, had the occasion to ask Dr. Smith about his recording of Lauda Concertata. AKIRAIFUKUBE.ORG warmly thanks Dr. Smith for taking the time to answer some questions about his performance. To learn more about Dr. J.B. Smith and his music, please visit his website by clicking on the link below:

www.public.asu.edu/~idjbs/


Erik Homenick: How did you become interested in music, in particular, percussion instruments?

J.B. Smith: I began playing drums when I was 10 years old. Haven’t stopped, yet.

EH: What instruments do you play?

JBS: I’m a multiple percussionist with special affections for marimba and electronic percussion.

EH: What made you decide to produce Apparitions for Percussion?

JBS: In 1998 I was motivated to produce three CDs for my personal label Whole>Sum Productions: First Reflections, a recording of several of my own compositions, At the Desert’s Edge, music for clarinet and percussion with colleague Robert Spring, and Apparitions for Percussion, recordings of music I had presented during a US solo recital tour.

EH: Why did you choose to include Ifukube's Lauda Concertata on Apparitions for Percussion?

JBS: In the early 1980s I heard a recording of Keiko Abe playing the Lauda. I was fascinated with it. I eventually became adept with interactive accompaniment programming and arranged a version for solo with computer accompaniment.

EH: Had you been a previous admirer of Ifukube's music?

JBS: Not knowingly. I subsequently discovered his vast film score work.

EH: Please talk a little bit about the "computerized orchestra" you used to accompany your marimba performance.

JBS: The Lauda is well-suited for a triggered accompaniment. At each entrance of the orchestra I clicked a foot pedal to initiate playback of pre-recorded sound files.

EH: I've heard that this piece is very technically demanding for the marimba soloist. Is this true?

JBS: There are certainly demanding moments. It actually lays on the marimba very comfortably.

EH: Do you know if Ifukube himself ever heard your performance?

JBS: No.

EH: What are your feelings about the score of Lauda Concertata in general?

JBS: It a compelling and dramatic work.

EH: Have Apparitions for Percussion and your performance of Lauda Concertata been successful with critics and the public?

JBS: I admit openly the electronic accompaniment pales to a performance with a live orchestra. Critics concurred.

EH: Any final thoughts or comments?

JBS: Thank you for including me in the discussion of Akira Ifukube’s music.



© Erik Homenick. All rights reserved.