Keith Smith Tribute

Calgary’s jazz scene lost one of its finest with the passing of jazz guitarist, Keith Smith, on August 4, 2016. A beautiful artist, wonderful soul, brilliant mind and generous spirit, Keith shared his gifts and heart freely with many in Canada and abroad.

Keith was a true gentleman and consummate professional widely respected for his playing whether solo, as a sideman or in his own amazing trio, “Estate”. He cared deeply about the music. His dedication and acute attention to detail made for memorable performances that touched both musicians and audiences. In the true spirit of serving the music, Keith drew from the great breadth of his skills to make the moment and those around him the best they could be. Many say that their finest musical memories are gigs shared with Keith Smith.

“We did not so much make music together but rather the music found us and poured out. Keith’s sensitivity and acute perception of every musical nuance expertly shaped the sounds in new and exciting ways making each song unique to the moment and always deeply authentic. He filled rooms with awe. He filled hearts with warmth.”

Keith’s caring and dedication to the preservation of jazz flowed naturally to teaching and mentoring emerging artists. His humble and positive approach influenced and inspired many in their musical growth. Keith was especially supportive in his encouragement of jazz vocalists. Keith’s contribution to the development of jazz in Mongolia will always be remembered by musicians and audiences there. The connection began with his support to Ganbat Nyandag’s jazz studies in Calgary in 2004. The generosity of spirit shown to Ganbat by Keith and other Calgary jazz artists spurred the development of Mongolia’s Giant Steppes International Jazz Festival and Keith travelled there in 2006, 2008 and 2014 to perform and give workshops. In 2008/2009, he was part of the jazz-ethno fusion project Northern Lights-Altai Khangai, which performed in Mongolia and toured across Canada to standing ovations.

Keith, you are sorely missed by many in Calgary, across Canada and around the world. One chord was silenced here below, but another is ringing freely up above.

Keith was predeceased by his wife, Geraldine (nee Young) and is survived by his three children, Morgan (Moe) Smith, Camron Smith and Allison Smith and his sisters, Pat Schuessler and Jennifer Law.

A service will held on Friday, August 19th at 2 pm at the Calgary Crematorium & Funeral Services (3219 4th St. NW |403-299-0111). A reception will follow at Slaughter House Studios (4223 16 St SE |403-262-6872) from 6pm onwards.

Flowers are welcomed. Donations may be made here

A musical Celebration of Life will be held for Keith in the coming weeks. Information will be shared as arrangements are confirmed.

In honour of Keith Smith, JazzYYC’s new scholarship has been named the “Keith Smith Memorial Scholarship”.

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