Though an avid record collector, college basketball fan, and coffee connoisseur, my life revolves around drumming and jazz music. My wife and I moved to New York City in 2004, since then I've spent much of the past 14 years in my favorite borough - Queens - walking our dog, eating amazing food, and of course playing music. My days are busy teaching lessons, working as a clinician, and playing gigs here in NYC and throughout the world.

Every Friday I perform with the Birdland Big Band at the world famous Birdland Jazz Club. It's my steady gig here in the city and an amazing opportunity to play in an great big band in one of the world's best venues.  In addition to Birdland, other recent performances include Dick Oatts Quintet, Joe Magnarelli Trio, and Andrew Gould Quartet. My drumming has also supported artists including Randy Brecker, Rufus Reid, Gary Smulyan, Benny Green, and Rich Perry in venues such as The Blue Note, Smalls, Chicago Jazz Festival, Telluride Jazz Festival, Dizzy’s Club, and Jazz Showcase. No matter the venue or situation I strive to make the music swing.

I am passionate about jazz history and The View from the Back of the Band: The Life and Music of Mel Lewis my recently published book is evidence. Available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book through UNT Press the book is a refined model for biographical jazz research and focuses on legendary drummer Mel Lewis. It is a comprehensive resource for study, combining meticulous biographical information, a discography of each recording mentioned in the text, musical transcriptions and analyses, substantial use of original interviews, and never before published photographs and memoirs.

In addition to being a performer and author, I am a dedicated educator. My higher education teaching experience includes undergraduate and graduate level drum set, jazz history, music business, jazz pedagogy, rhythm section workshop, jazz ensembles, percussion ensemble, and orchestral percussion. Past appointments as a clinician and guest lecturer include the American Library in Paris, Eastern Washington University, University of Wyoming, Luther College, and University of Montana. I have a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies from Northern Illinois University, a Master of Music in Jazz Arts from Manhattan School of Music, and a D.A. in Jazz Studies, with a secondary emphasis in Percussion Pedagogy, from the University of Northern Colorado. 

Extensive private study with me is available. For more information contact me at chrissmithjazzdrums@gmail.com

As the drummer in the Birdland Big Band I have the pleasure of playing every Friday at the club. Here's a clip from Birdland featuring Scott Wendholt on trumpet. January 2018