Interview with Giacomo Smith from Kansas Smitty’s, the jazz man from London’s hottest jazz bar yet

If you read this blog you’ve probably already heard about my passion for Kansas Smitty’s crazy-fun jazz raves, discovered first at the Dead Dolls Club in Bethnal Green and then brought to one of East London’s greatest jazz bars, the band’s own Kansas Smitty’s bar. Today I interview Giacomo Smith, the incredibly busy and uber successful Italian-American jazz player from the band.2637-giacomo-smith

Bespectacled Giacomo is now a celebrity among London’s jazz aficionados: it’s not easy to grab five minutes for an interview with the clarinet player. The easiest way to have a chat is to catch him at one of Smitty’s bar’s incredible jazz raves, or on one of the more relaxed Basement Tapes nights.

Giacomo’s schedule mixes the chilled Italian lifestyle with busy London days. He says:”I can’t get started without breakfast and a good coffee. After that, I try to sit at the piano for at least an hour and warm up for the day. This practice time is usually interrupted by a very long – and welcome! – phone call from business partner, Jack.”

After tackling his emails and prepping up for the day’s gig, Giacomo usually plays all day and crashes onto his bed for a few hours after midnight, to then start all over again. “It’s a very tiring but rewarding lifestyle,” he says.

Born in Rossano Calabro (Italy), Giacomo moved to the States when he was a little kid. The clarinet player never lost touch with his Italian roots: “I identify strongly with my Italian roots. I’ve always been in love with Italian culture, arts, customs and more. They have certainly shaped me more than my American heritage has.”

Giacomo grew up in upstate New York. His mother played Tracy Chapman, Dave Brubeck and Paolo Conte around the house and his love for music started as early as five, when he took up the piano. He fell in love with jazz at ten, when he started playing the clarinet, moving on to the saxophone at 12.

“I moved to London to work in Boston University’s Study Abroad office when I finished university because I didn’t know what else to do!” Giacomo says. “I had a one year maternity leave contract and thought I’d save some cash and move back to the States. Four years later, clearly everything has gone according to plan…”

His band Kansas Smitty’s was born after a group of jazzmen from all corners of the London jazz scene decided to get together for the love of swing music. “We all share a love for the musical heritage of Kansas City, New Orleans, New York and Paris.”

Giacomo says Kansas Smitty’s bar was born out of his and the band’s manager Jack Abraham’s idea. He says:  “Jack is highly experienced in the bar trade and was able to bring together practical business principles and our shared creative mission under one roof. I’d definitely say I’ve followed his lead on the bar, but I’m a very vocal back seat driver!”

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The bar is Giacomo’s “proudest achievement to date”. He says: “I’m grateful daily to be able to work with so many masters of their craft. Our band and bar is the culmination of every professional aspiration I’ve ever had and I’m enjoying it as much as one could!”

Like a true Italian, Giacomo doesn’t fret too much about the future: “No point making plans! You’ll only be disappointed if they come true!”

Check out Giacomo and his band in one of my favourite bars in London: http://www.kansassmittys.com/

Pictures by: Brasserie Dezel, Carolina Are


Per la versione italiana di quest’articolo, controllate Italian Kingdom.


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