Date: Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023

Genre: Jazz

Saxophonist, composer, and educator Kendrick Smith was born and raised in East St. Louis. His love and gift for music was realized as a child during his grade school years, where a whirlwind musical career would begin. Throughout his grade school years, he would come to attain several awards in recognition of his natural talent and musical aptitude, to include Most Outstanding Soloist in the Metro East Jazz Festival Competition. While in high school, he began studying under the late, great, and renown baritone saxophonist, Mr. Hamiett Bluiett. Bluiett played along such jazz prominence as Charles Mingus and was one of the founding members of the World Saxophone Quartet. Kendrick was very fortunate as to play weekly at one of St. Louis’ prominent jazz restaurants at the time, Spruill’s, with jazz giant Willie Akins, also gracing the stage with the late blues vocalist Mae Wheeler.

 Kendrick attended Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville (SIUE) on scholarship, where he began studying Jazz Performance under soulful pianist and educator Reggie Thomas. While sharpening his skills in college he began teaching clarinet and saxophone at Swing City Music Store in 2010. Over the years he has taught students of all ages and all levels of skill. In later years, he began adding flute, oboe, and bassoon to his repertoire. He has also been teaching lessons at the Missouri School of the Blind since 2017.

 Kendrick has played as a solo act, and with his group, the Kendrick Smith Trio, all over the St. Louis Metropolitan Area. His first residency was at the Premier Lounge in St. Louis, where he played a weekly jazz matinee. As indication of his growing notoriety, he was featured and compared to jazz giant Charlie Parker in local newspaper, The St. Louis American, in an entitled, “Baby Bird Stretches Jazz Wings”. Other stages and venues he has graced include: The Fat Cat, and Smalls, both of New York City, Jazz at the Bistro (where Kenny Garrett, Chick Corea, Robert Glasper, Joe Lovano, Sean Jones and several other jazz all-stars have graced the stage) , Sheldon Concert Hall, and Blueberry Hill. Kendrick has a residency at thriving jazz venue, Thurman’s Bar and Grill. He hits the stage every Friday night with his trio, providing what the owner always refers to as “face melting jazz and improvisation.” His leadership and performance at this venue landed him a very special feature in the NY Times, where writer proclaimed, “Kendrick Smith was playing the alto saxophone like his life depended on it!” 

Kendrick is looking forward to some very promising prospects: the debut of first album (released Spring 2019) and the feature of his original classical catalog, to be played by the University City Symphony Orchestra. All indicative of his creative and exploratory composing skills. Kendrick has also been selected to compose trailer music for an upcoming independent Hollywood film, He has played along some influential musicians/artists to include: Kirk Whalum, Greg Osby, Russell Gun, Emanuel Harold, The Temptations, and playwright and poet Ntozake Shange . Most recently, he did an east coast (New Jersey, New York, and Baltmore) tour with a tribute band dedicated to Hamiet Bluiett, led by Ronnie Barrage. Where he was interviewed by NY jazz critic John Pietro and made his “ Best musicians of 2019” column which included Dave Liebman the (late) Wallace Roney.

In 2021 he started a instrumental reed and mouthpiece company named Truly Reeds, the reeds are currently available in every major music store in the St. Louis Metropolitan area.  Kendrick has been called one of the emerging pillars of the St. Louis music scene and looks forward to fulfilling that prophecy. In 2022 he became the director of “Build A Yes” a Jazz music society based in St. Louis.  In his own words, his vision is to “Strive for excellence, show forth professionalism on and off the bandstand, to touch people, and to keep jazz music alive and moving forward.”

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