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Shirley Smart is recognised as one of the UK’s most versatile and creative cellists – being equally at home and well versed in jazz and Middle Eastern music, as well as classical music.
Originally trained under Raphael Wallfisch at the Guilldhall School of Music, and Janos Starker in Paris, she subsequently moved to Jerusalem, where she remained for 10 years, studying and performing a wide variety of musical traditions from the North Africa, Turkey and Middle East. She was also highly active on the jazz scene, working with artists including Avishai Cohen, Omer Avital and Yasmin Levy.
Since returning to the UK, she has quickly become known as one of the most creative cellists on the music scene and has worked with many leading jazz and world music groups, including Antonio Forcione, Mulato Astatke, Gilad Atzmon, Neil Cowley, Julian Ferraretto, Robert Mitchell, and Alice Zawadski.
She leads her own trio, with John Crawford on piano, and Demi Garcia Sabat on drums, and sextet.
Other projects include Issis Barratt’s Interchange, a freely improvised duo with multi-instrumentalist James Arben and duo with pianist Robert Mitchell, with whom a duo CD is to be released on Discus Records later in 2021.
Shirley is Head of Performance and a Lecturer in Music at City University, and also teaches Improvisation and Jazz at the Royal College of Music Junior Department. She is a visiting tutor for the National Youth Jazz Collective, and an in demand workshop leader.