Drummer Neal Smith—an associate professor of percussion at Berklee—has performed with artists such as Geri Allen, Anita Baker, Tom Harrell, Donald Harrison, and Frank Morgan. He has recorded several albums as a leader and has produced several projects for various artists on the NASMusic label.
Born and raised in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, Smith has been playing drums since the age of 5. By the time he completed high school he had achieved a remarkable list of performance accomplishments and earned an impressive array of awards, scholarships, and honors.
With the support of his family, Smith continued his studies at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music where he received a bachelor of music degree in jazz studies and performance, the first African-American to earn a degree in jazz studies from Oberlin.
He performs regularly with internationally recognized artists and has shared the stage with the likes of Tom Harrell, Anita Baker, Geri Allen, Donald Byrd, Kenny Burrell, Sonny Fortune, Jimmy Owens, Eddie Harris, Isaac Hayes, Gary Bartz, Benny Golson, Donald Harrison, Frank Morgan, Brian Lynch, Benny Green, Cyrus Chestnut, Frank Foster, Dewey Redman, Mark Whitfield, Ronnie Mathews, Rufus Reid, Wendel Logan, James Moody, Marlena Shaw, and Vanessa Rubin.
Smithl has recorded several albums as a leader and has produced several projects for various artists on the NASMusic label. He performs regularly in clubs and concert halls, at colleges and universities, and at U.S. and international jazz festivals.