My life is all 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 a great big band in one of the world's best venues. At Birdland alone I perform for about 10,000 jazz fans every year, it’s a dream gig for a big band jazz drummer! Outside of Birdland I perform with world-class small groups, recent performances include Dick Oatts Quintet, Joe Magnarelli Trio, Andrew Gould Quartet, and Garry Dial Trio. 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. 

The Drum Hang is my new educational project. Through my free weekly lessons on this site and Youtube, I have begun connecting with more and more drummers from all over the world. These free episodes have led to a growing private studio where I provide extensive private mentorship to jazz drummers of all ages and skill levels. I am available for one lesson or regular lesson packages. Whatever your musical goals, I want to help you achieve them. Let’s Hang!

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