An evening with cellist and composer Shirley Smart and her North-African and world influenced jazz trio and sextet, as part of our 2021 online City Summer Sounds festival.
This event will be broadcast live and available to view via the YouTube stream below, or by clicking here.
Acknowledged as one of the UK’s most versatile and creative cellists, Shirley is equally at home and well versed in jazz, folk, Middle Eastern and World Music, as well as classical, and her music draws upon this rich tapestry of influences.
Originally trained under Raphael Wallfisch at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and Janos Starker in Paris, she subsequently moved to Jerusalem, where she where she studied and performed and absorbed the rich and overlapping worlds of North African, Arabic, Turkish and Balkan music as well as jazz, working with some of the region’s leading artists, including Avishai Cohen, Omer Avital, Khaled Jubran, Sabreen and Yasmin Levy.
Since returning to the UK, Shirley has quickly garnered a formidable reputation with her own groups and has worked with many leading jazz and World Music artists, including Antonio Forcione, Mulatu Astatke, Gilad Atzmon, Issie Barratt’s ‘Interchange’, Neil Cowley, Robert Mitchell and Alice Zawadzki.
Her debut album Long Story Short, released in 2018, was critically acclaimed, and she has since have performed at festivals around the UK and Europe, including the London Jazz Festival, and Vivacello, Moscow. Highlights for 2020 included the Biennale Festival at Bimhuis, Amsterdam, Birmingham Jazz Festival and a UK tour.
She is a keen educator, and is Head of Performance at City, University of London, as well as teaching Jazz and Improvisation for the RCMJD and LPMAM. She also gives frequent workshops for organisations such as the National Youth Jazz Collective, Jazzlines and Trinity Laban Conservatoire.
This evening's concert showcases her trio, featuring two of the UK's leading lights in world-influenced jazz: John Crawford on piano, and Demi Garcia Sabat on percussion, and also her new sextet project, which has its first live outing at this year's Summer Sounds Festival.
Shirley Smart - cello
Tim Quicke - trumpet
James Arben - tenor Sax/flute
John Crawford - piano
Michele Montoli - bass
Demi Garcia Sabat - drums/percussion
"Shirley Smart can now be considered one of the best improvising cellists in the UK" The Jazzmann
"...some of the most inventive use of the cello I have heard for some time.." Kind of Jazz
"As a cellist-composer she morphs seamlessly from Stephane Grappelli like swing and Bird-like bebop...a charming kaleidoscope and jazzy showcase of her global folk music-inspired compositions" Jazzwise
"Intense, lyrical and full of energy....A thrilling range on technique on display...Smart's cello singing, snarling or pumping out bass lines....fascinating listening, and thought-provoking entertainment for the open-eared" The Arts Desk
"Smart's playing is particularly remarkable….she readily demonstrates a wide range of techniques incorporating an understanding of improvisation drawn from a jazz background and her extensive knowledge of Arabic maqam..." Songlines
" A fascinating melting pot of musical influences" World Music Central