Swing Bassist

Swing Bassist



Farris Smith Jr., a San Francisco native, began his musical career with an early childhood foundation in piano and guitar.  By the time he reached his teens, it was the sixties in San Francisco; the music scene was exciting, stimulating, and uniquely improvisational and drew every kind of musician known and unknown to the clubs, festivals and parks of the City by The Bay. It was a fortunate time to be a teenage kid with music on his mind.  Living close to Golden Gate Park and Haight Ashbury, he was an exploring teen in a musical wonderland of free speech and freedom with music.  This was the first of many paradigm shifts for Farris where he found himself passionately in love with music and with international cultures - Farris became a Eulipian musician, "a Journey agent's duty-free gift to the traveler" to quote Roland Kirk. 

             After performing in London, Germany and France, Farris spent 16 years on the culturally rich islands of Hawaii playing bass guitar. During this time he performed in many of the Waikiki clubs, most notably with "The Nearly Famous Band", and soon discovered his talent and love of the ContraBass.  He attended and eventually taught ethnomusicology at the University of Hawaii and then in the mid-eighties relocated to Coffs Harbour, Australia performing at the Aanuka Beach Resort as well as teaching jazz bass at the Sidney Conservatory annex in Coffs. Returning to San Francisco in the early nineties, Farris obtained his degree in music, taught Contra Bass, played straight ahead jazz steadily at clubs in and around San Francisco Bay as well as made several recordings. 

            Farris's musical inspiration is passionately based upon his African American heritage and the belief that music should point towards a style and sound of life that not only encompasses his  roots, but originates "naturally', without force,  from a center of spirituality, love and most importantly, with  God.  Farris' dictum: "When there is faith, all things can happen". 

             He is most influenced by the styles of Charles Mingus, Brian Bromberg and  the distinct power of Ray Brown. Now in Paris, he is focusing on the Avant-Gard. He feels fortunate to share company of an afternoon with world renown fellow bassists Alan Silva, Fred Clayton, drummer Sunny Murray and other like minded artists. 

Truly a unique Eulipian at heart, Farris had always wanted to return to the music, magic and people of France to explore the jazz scene in a country that truly respects and continues to open it's arms to the exploration of this American art form. He currently resides on a small farm just outside of Paris. He also travels to San Francisco numerous times during the year continuing to play and study the richness, texture and color of the Contra Bass. 

      Keep your ears peeled for the opportunity to hear Farris playing his Contra Bass, because another paradigm shift is in the works, and he's bound for his unique home within the worldwide community of jazz.