Photos, story by Lou Perri
This writer enjoys a good fried chicken and rosemary waffle with maple bourbon glaze as was posted on a press release announcing the start of the Barnes Foundation‘s First Friday event which brought singer and trumpeter jumaane Smith. to center stage in the Foundation’s Annenberg Court.
However, there was no fried chicken and waffles, but the sweet maple bourbon sounds of a master trumpeter. Formerly a member of Michael Buble’s band, this Juilliard alumnus took center stage at the Barnes to perform music from his debut record, “I Only Have Eyes for You,” a celebration of the Great American Songbook. He also performed a Louie Armstrong classic for an appreciative audience crowded into the Court.
His collaborations range from pop idols to jazz legends, and the list reads like a lineup for the best New Orleans Jazz Fest ever. He’s worked with Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones, Michael Buble’, Jackie Evancho, Alicia Keys, The Jonas Brothers, Wyclef Jean, Justin Bieber, Diddy, Natalie Cole, James Ingram, Wynton Marsalis, Ravi Coltrane, Chris Botti and many others. At 16, while most boys are content with getting a driver’s license, Jumaane was on a plane for the first time headed to Europe. As a member of the Roosevelt High School Jazz Band under the direction of Scott Brown, he spent three weeks performing at such events as the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and the North Sea Jazz Festival in Den Hague.
In 2002, Wynton Marsalis awarded him a scholarship to attend the Academy of Achievement Summit in Dublin, Ireland. The attendees were some of the greatest thinkers alive: world leaders such as Gorbachev and Bill Clinton, Hollywood giants such as James Earl Jones, and Nobel Prize winners. Asked the night before the event’s gala finale, Jumaane and a fellow student performed a duet for the event under pressure with no repertoire prepared, “opening” for Chuck Berry.
One year later, as February was being declared African-American Music Month, Jumaane and the Jazz Museum in Harlem All-Stars performed for George W. Bush in the East Room of the White House.
In 2005, Jumaane was invited to audition for Michael Bublé’s band. Nine years later, Jumaane continues to perform, record, travel and learn as a part of the Bublé family.
“The experience has been what I imagine post-graduate school to be like,” he told Explore Philly during an intermission. “Michael Bublé is a wonderfully humble, down to earth and extremely generous person who thrives off of his family and friends realizing their own hopes, dreams and goals. It has been truly inspirational working with him.”
From touring the world with Bublé to playing the Grammy Awards show with Stevie Wonder and the Jonas Brothers to recording “As I Am” with Alicia Keys to appearing on the “American Idol” soundtrack to scoring and performing music for the film “Handsome Harry,” Jumaane’s accomplishments go on and on. The recordings he’s appeared on have sold more than 25 million copies worldwide, garnered four Grammy nominations and earned three Grammy wins. The TV shows he’s appeared on total an audience of around 100 million viewers.
After listening to Smith and his band perform on a Friday night, this writer never missed the fried chicken dinner as advertised as his soul was full of good music. For general admission or member tickets to First Friday events, go online or call 215.278.7200.