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Joel LaRue Smith

Joel LaRue Smith


A 2022 Scholar-in-Residence at the Tufts European Center, Joel LaRue Smith is a pianist, composer, arranger, producer, and educator. He has toured extensively, performing jazz, classical, gospel and Afro Cuban repertoire at venues including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Whitney Museum, The White House, and London’s Royal Albert Hall, and noted jazz clubs including the Blue Note and the Village Gate. He has performed with the New York Philharmonic, The Toledo Symphony, The French National Orchestra, Mario Bauza, Kenny Burrell, Tito Puente, Junior Cook and Wayne Andre.

Joel was the featured pianist in the 2011 Annual John Coltrane Memorial Concert in Boston, and since 2013, he has served as Cultural Envoy to Central America for the U.S. Embassy and Department of State.

The recipient of six Meet the Composer grants, Joel won the grand prize in musical composition from the Queens Council for the Arts, a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship Program Finalist Award in Music Composition, Boston Foundation Live Arts grant for his Afro Latin jazz suite Pasajes, and ASCAP’s distinguished George and Ira Gershwin Award.

Joel holds a B.A. from City College of New York, where he studied piano, arranging, and composition, and a Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music. Joel then pursued independent study with Mario Bauza, Jaki Byard, Barry Harris, David del Tredici, Charlie Palmieri, and Ron Carter.

His debut album September’s Child features seven original Afro-Cuban Jazz compositions, and his album The Motorman’s Son was named to Preston Frazier’s Best Jazz of 2017. His book on improvisation, Jazz: Then, Now, Tomorrow, is scheduled for release in 2023.

Joel discusses why he joined the creative team of A Pint of Understanding:​​

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