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Paul Smoker

Paul Smoker


Office: A92

Departmental Responsibilities:
Jazz Ensemble Director
Jazz Combo Director
Jazz Studies
Jazz Theory
Jazz Improvisation Lessons

University of Iowa, DMA
University of Iowa, MFA
University of Iowa, MA
University of Iowa, BM

Trumpeter, composer, and educator Paul Smoker has been active in both classical and jazz musics ever since he started playing as a youngster in Davenport, Iowa. At age 14 he began performing jazz professionally at the jazz clubs across the Mississippi River in Rock Island and Moline, Illinois. During that same period he was first trumpet with the local youth symphony orchestra and doing three Broadway shows every summer for the Quad-City Music Guild. At the University of Iowa he played most of the classical trumpet repertory, as well as chamber, orchestra, and contemporary music (as a member of the Center for New Music). He was a founding member of the U of Iowa Jazz Ensemble and continued to play professionally with jazz groups, the Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra, and show orchestras. While working on his four degrees (culminating with a doctorate in performance and pedagogy [DMA]), he began to arrange, compose, and teach, Also professionally, he was music director of the Miss Iowa Pageant for fifteen years—arranging all the music, and a member of the Iowa Brass Quintet for ten years; and, he was receiving commissions to compose and arrange for high school, college, and professional jazz ensembles.

As an educator he has held full-time positions at the Universities of Wisconsin–Oshkosh, Iowa, Northern Iowa, and Coe College, directing their jazz studies programs as well as teaching trumpet and 20th-century music history. At Coe he was a founding member of the faculty contemporary music group, SOMA. In the early 1980’s The Paul Smoker Trio made its first recordings and quickly acquired an international reputation, touring and playing jazz festivals throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. Since then, Smoker has appeared on fifty recordings, both as a leader and as a sideman. He has worked and/or recorded with such musicians as Anthony Braxton, Evan Parker, Vinny Golia, Steve Salerno, Drew Gress, Phil Haynes, Barry Altschul, John Tchicai, Lou Grassi, Doc Severinsen, David Sanborn, and others too numerous to mention here.  He was first elected to the Downbeat Critics’ Poll in 1986, and has been the subject of features in Downbeat, Jazziz, Coda and Cadence among other periodicals. His recordings and style are discussed in various discographies, encyclopedias, and textbooks.

He was appointed in 2001 to direct jazz studies at Nazareth College, and has been Composer-in-Residence at the Rochester School of the Arts and Cornell University. His present group, The Paul Smoker Notet, has a new CD recording available—COOL LIVES.

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