Walter Smith III (born September 24, 1980) is an American jazz saxophonist and composer.
In addition to performing with his own group, Smith is a member of the Ambrose Akinmusire Quintet and Eric Harland's Voyager. He regularly plays and records with modern jazz notables including Taylor Eigsti, Christian Scott, Logan Richardson, Kendrick Scott, Aaron Parks, Warren Wolf, and others.
Smith has released three albums as leader: Casually Introducing (2006), Live In Paris (2009), and III (2010).
Smith began playing the saxophone at the age of seven in his hometown of Houston, Texas. While at Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, he received a Clifford Brown/Stan Getz Fellowship from the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) and the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts (NFAA); the NFAA Young Talent Award; a full-tuition scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music; and a United States Presidential Scholar in the Arts medal. He graduated from Berklee in 2003 with a degree in music education. He later earned a masters degree at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.
Smith has performed in numerous national and international festivals and on stages in the U.S. such as Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. He has shared the stage and appeared on recordings with many jazz notables, including Terence Blanchard, Roy Haynes, Christian McBride, Eric Reed, Mulgrew Miller, Joe Lovano, Bob Hurst, Myron Walden, Walter Beasley, Lewis Nash, Terri Lyne Carrington, and others. To date, he has appeared on more than 75 recordings.
Smith's debut recording as a leader was released in March 2006 on the Fresh Sound New Talent label and features Ambrose Akinmusire, Aaron Parks, Reuben Rogers, Eric Harland, and Kendrick Scott, and others. His sophomore release, entitled Live in Paris, was released in October 2009 featuring Ambrose Akinmusire, Aaron Goldberg, Matt Brewer, and Marcus Gilmore. His most recent album, III, was released in September 2010 and was a top 10 bestseller on iTunes. It features Ambrose Akinmusire, Jason Moran, Joe Sanders, and Eric Harland. Smith is currently signed to Concord Records; his fourth album is due to be released in May 2014.
Smith lives in Los Angeles, where he teaches music at the LA County High School for the Arts.