Lewis started out as a classical clarinettist but at the age of 18 took up saxophone and began playing jazz. By the age of 19, while still a music student at the University of Ulster, he found himself to be a member of the Brian Irvine Ensemble as soprano saxophonist alongside the legendary English free jazz saxophonist Paul Dunmall. Working with Brian took Lewis all over Europe performing at many contemporary music and jazz festivals. This was a partnership that lasted 11 years and included performances for BBC Radio 3 with the Ulster Orchestra and also a performance with Keith Tippet.
Throughout the years, Lewis has been the leader and composer for various outfits and projects. The Soundcloud links on the page are of the Lewis Smith Quartet ft Brian Connor on piano, Alan Shields on Bass and Ray McKendry on drums. This particular quartet was a great avenue for exploration and experimentation.
In 2004 while on tour in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan with the Drum 'N Bass band Spree, he found a passion for the indigenous music there. Later he would return to research Kazakh traditional music for compositions he would later write.
Alty (6 in Kazakh) was later formed to perform this music. A sextet of violin, cello, two electric guitars and saxophone performed the works that were influenced by Kazakh music and used classical compositional techniques and improvisation. The debut for these works was in the Sonic Arts Research Centre at Queens University Belfast and needless to say, the ethnomusicology students were obliged to attend.