Joel LaRue Smith, Composer

The Pint Collaborative

Born in New York City, Joel LaRue Smith began playing piano at age 5 and at 14 was accepted to The High School of Performing Arts. Upon graduating, he continued his studies in piano, arranging, and composition at City College of New York, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree. He was then accepted to the Manhattan School of Music, where he received his Master of Music degree. Joel went on to independent study with Mario Bauza, Jaki Byard, Barry Harris, David del Tredici, Charlie Palmieri, and Ron Carter.


A pianist, composer, arranger, producer, and educator, he has toured extensively, performing jazz, classical, gospel and Afro Cuban repertoire throughout the U.S., Europe, Africa, Asia, Central America, and the Caribbean. Joel has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Whitney Museum, The White House, Symphony Hall in San Francisco and Boston, London’s Royal Albert Hall, and at The Hellenic Music Festival in Athens, as well as at the 2013 and 2011 Costa Rica International Jazz Festival, the 2011 Guatemala International Music Festival, and various noted jazz clubs like the Blue Note, The Village Gate, the Jazz Dock in Prague, and The Blue Frog in Mumbai.  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.


Since 2013, Joel has served as Cultural Envoy to Central America for the U.S. Embassy and Department of State.


Joel is the recipient of six Meet the Composer grants, a grand prizewinner for the grant in musical composition from the Queens Council for the Arts, and has won ASCAP’s distinguished George and Ira Gershwin Award.  In addition, he was the featured pianist in the 2011 Annual John Coltrane Memorial Concert in Boston.


His works have been well reviewed internationally. 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.