Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Smith, Richard (Matthews)
Smith, Richard (Matthews), guitar, composer, arranger, educator, producer; b. Detroit, Michigan, 15 August 1959. He was raised in Eugene, Oregon (3 years old to 23 years old). His father, Richard Alan Smith (b. 1/12/32) is a Prof. Of Architecture. His mother, Nancy K. Mcfadden (b. 11/13/38), has a PHD in U.S. History. His sibling is Robin Alain Smith (b. 8/1/56). He studied with Jack Petersen in 1979 and Joe Diorio from 1983-86.
Born in Detroit Michigan, raised in Oregon - a Chick Corea Electric Band concert inspired Smith to dedicate his life to the guitar at the age of 14. Within a year he was playing the many jazz and blues clubs in Oregon. At the age of 19 he left school to pursue offers of a recording contract and a tour with keyboardist Dan Siegel. Making a decision that changed his life dramatically, Richard packed two guitars into a small car and headed for Los Angeles, where he entered the USC Master of Music program. His USC instructor, jazz legend Joe Diorio, recommended him to Pianist Billy Mitchell, who introduced Richard to the world of rhythm & blues and L.A.'s thriving and ever-changing urban jazz scene.
He hung out and worked with Russ Freemen, Max Bennett, Sam Riney, Tony Guerrero, Brian Bromberg, Jeff Kashiwa, Billy Mitchell and other stars of the L.A. jazz scene. About this time Richard made a "demo" with the help of friends Kenny G and Dan Siegel. Doing sessions for pop artists, he met a producer from Japan who heard the demo, and signed Smith in the parking lot of the Baked Potato jazz club. This first recording effort was rewarded with a nomination for record of the year in Japan. Within a year he joined Richard Elliot spent much of his life on the road with Richard and jazz luminaries Peter White, Rick Braun, Marc Antoine, Warren Hill, Kirk Whalum, Dan Siegel, Guitars and Saxes and others.
He is on faculty at the Thornton School at the University of Southern California, where he is chair of the Studio/Jazz Guitar department. He was the youngest guitarist to make the rank of Professor in that school's history. He was also the youngest chairman - at the age of 29,while still performing 100 concerts a year as Richard Elliot's high-profile guitarist, and riding the top of airplay charts for his solo albums. He started the first Doctoral program in jazz guitar in the world and is wildly passionate about bringing attention to modern American music. He facilitated an honorary degree from USC for Quincy Jones. In 2000 Richard made the decision to scale back touring and sideman work, and concentrate on solo projects. On 9/11 2002, Richard launched GuitarMasters.Org, which has raised thousands of dollars and provided free lessons, classes, guitars and mentoring to "at-risk" young people in South Central Los Angeles through the Challengers Boys and Girls Club.
His wife is Lynn Scott-Smith, a landscape designer.
Rockin' The Boat (1989); Bella Firenze (1991); From My Window (1994); First Kiss (1997); Flow (1999); Natural Soul (2002); SOuLIDIFIED (2003)
Richard Elliott: What's Inside, On the Town, Soul Embrace, After Dark, The Latest;
Dan Siegel: Oasis, Relfections, Going Home (1993), Hemispheres (1995); Steve Reid: Bamboo Forest; Tony Guererro Nova: Different Places; Shiela Majid Gamilang (Malaysia); Avenu (R. Smith/Wendell Uponce Duo): Eastern Dreams; Charlie White and Joe Sample; Billy Mitchell: In Focus; Cheryl Barnes: Cheryl; John Bolivar: Bolivar; Kazuto Murata; Various Artists: The New Age of Christmas; Steve Narahara: Odyssey; Lniz Artega: Collage; Christofer Ashby: Light Impressions