Jessika Smith

Jessika SmithCurrently residing in Eugene, Oregon, Jessika Smith (Jessie Smith, formerly Jessika Leek) is a composer, saxophonist, and music educator. She is the director and coordinator of the Jessika Smith Big Band and the Eugene Composer’s Big Band. Jessika plays frequently in Oregon and Washington with assorted jazz groups, including Torrey Newhart’s Obsidian Animals and the Emerald City Jazz Kings, and she currently teaches K-8 General Music and Band at Prairie Mountain School in the Bethel School District. The Jessika Smith Big Band’s debut album, “Tricks of Light”, was released with PJCE records on December 18, 2015. Jessika can be heard on Torrey Newhart’s Obsidian Animals album “Sound In-Sight”, Milonga’s “The Brown Album”, Bob Curnow’s “The Music Of Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays Vol. 2”, on numerous tracks recorded by the EWU Wind Ensemble and EWU Jazz Ensemble, and on the Oregon Jazz Ensemble’s recordings from 2012-2014.
Smith’s composition “Cyan Thread” was the winner of the 2015 National Band Association Young Jazz Composer’s Contest. The Navy Commodores performed the piece at the 2015 Midwest Clinic in Chicago on December 17, 2015. “Cyan Thread” was also awarded an honorable mention in the 2015 Ithaca College Jazz Composition Contest. In 2013, Jessika’s composition, “Lights” for large jazz ensemble was the winner of the first annual Seattle Women’s Jazz Orchestra Composition Contest. “Lights” was performed with guest artist Ingrid Jensen at the Earshot Jazz Festival in Seattle, WA on October 24, 2013. Lights and other samples of Jessika’s playing and writing can be heard online. During her time at UO (graduated 2014), Jessika played lead alto with the award-winning Oregon Jazz Ensemble, which toured Europe in the summer of 2014 and participated in the Montreux, Vienne, Umbria, and La Spezia Jazz Festivals.
Jessika was a UO graduate teaching fellow whose duties included directingJessika Smith Jazz Lab 2 (big band), jazz combos, teaching private saxophone lessons, and being a teaching assistant in Jazz Performance Lab and Jazz History courses. She studied with Steve Owen (jazz composition/arranging) and Idit Shner (saxophone). Jessika is also a graduate of Eastern Washington University with a BA and teaching certificate in K-12 Music Education. While working toward her undergraduate degree, she studied saxophone performance with Todd Delgiudice and music composition and arranging with Rob Tapper and Don Goodwin.
She received the “Outstanding Undergraduate Jazz Award” both in 2009 and 2010, graduated magna cum laude, and received the honor of EWU’s Frances B. Huston award in 2011. Jessika taught for many years at the EWU Jazz Dialogue Summer Camp and regularly teaches at the Seattle Saxophone Institute Summer Camp. She has adjudicated at the EWU Jazz Dialogue Festival, the Pleasant Hill Jazz Festival and the Reno Jazz Festival, and she gives clinics and workshops in saxophone, composition/arranging and jazz improvisation.
Jessika’s private students have won principal chairs in honors groups including the Washington All-State Wind Ensemble, participated in regional and state-wide solo contests, and have won music scholarships for college.
While living in Spokane, Jessika was a director of the Spokane All-City Jazz Ensembles, which focuses on hands-on learning of the jazz language in a small group setting for the most talented students in the area. “
Jessika has experience in many genres of music including jazz, classical, funk, rock, and Latin.
She has accompanied jazz Danskinhistorian and saxophonist Carl Woideck in his Jazz Heritage series at the Shedd, occasionally plays with the Portland Jazz Composer’s Ensemble, plays in Spokane-based funk/jazz group Vinyl Butter, occasionally plays with Spokane-based Latin band Milonga, performs with the Kyle and Jessie Smith Duo and she was the youngest member of the Bob Curnow Big Band from 2008-2012, and she can be heard on Bob’s studio recordings for Sierra Music Publishing Company. In the classical style, Jessika has won the regional solo and ensemble contest two times, and also won the gold medal at the Spokane Musicfest competition as the leader and soprano saxophonist of EWU’s saxophone quartet.

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