Jumaane (JEW-MAH-KNEE) Smith, trumpeter and vocalist, has already done what most musicians spend their lives dreaming about. He’s traveled the world, played stages in historic clubs, in massive stadiums and at cultural landmarks, recorded a solo album, appeared on national television and performed for two sitting U.S. presidents.
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 more.
At 16, while most kids 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.
Only a few years later, now living in NY, Jumaane was one of 17 musicians (including only 4 trumpeters) invited to join the inaugural class of Jazz Studies at Julliard – a program developed by Wynton Marsalis.
In 2002, 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 says. “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.
Now Jumaane steps forward and takes center stage as he has completed his debut record “I Only Have Eyes For You.” A celebration of the Great American Songbook with the theme of love and romance, the album includes interpretations of classic tunes full of personal emotion. The debut features performances by Michael Buble’, Jackie Evancho as well as the title track/lead single featuring Naturally 7, which has reached the Top #15 on Billboard’s Smooth Jazz Singles Charts.
“I imagine that it is very rewarding to see your own project become successful,” he says. “As the leader, you get back what you put into it.” Now only time will tell how a lifetime of learning and all-star mentorship will pay off.