Born and raised in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, Neal Smith has been playing drums since the age of five. 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, Neal continued his studies at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music where he received a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies and Performance, the first African-American to earn a degree in Jazz Studies from the Conservatory.
NB: Neal Smith is not to be mistaken with the the original Alice Cooper Group drummer Neal Smith, who is bearing the same name.
In addition to his academic training, Neal Smith has studied with Vernell Fournier, Greg Bandy, Paul Samuels, Michael Carvin, Tom Freer, Bruce Collie, and Michael Rosen.
Neal performs regularly in clubs and concert halls, at colleges and universities, and at U.S. and International Jazz Festivals.
Neal leads his own group, which performs original compositions as well as classic arrangements of jazz standards.
Neal also performs regularly with internationally recognized artists and has shared the stage with the likes of Tom Harrell, Anita Baker, Geri Allen, Marcus Belgrave, Donald Byrd, Kenny Burrell, Jimmy Owens, Eddie Harris, Isaac Hayes, Gary Bartz, Benny Golson, Donald Harrison, Frank Morgan, Kenny Barron, Brian Lynch, Benny Green, Cyrus Chestnut, Frank Foster, Dewey Redman, Mark Whitfield, Ronnie Mathews, Rufus Reid, Wendel Logan, Ray Drummond, James Moody, Marlena Shaw, and Vanessa Rubin.
Beyond performing, Neal loves to teach developing drummers. He maintains a rehearsal studio in New York City where he lives, and frequently hosts master-classes and clinics while touring.
Recognizing the need for a record label that focuses exclusively on the production of jazz recordings, Neal founded the NAS label. His two most recent CD recordings are "Swingin' is Believin'" and "Some of My Favorite Songs Are...".
Neal Smith endorses Pearl Drums, Evans Drumheads, and Bosphorus Cymbals.