Saturday, July 20, 2013

Tribute to a "big" jazz pianist

I never got to see Guaraldi perform, but I was luckier with jazz pianist Paul Smith; I saw him live at least a dozen times, and probably more. He was a monster pianist, and not simply because of his impressive size — he stood 6 feet 5, and his huge hands easily spanned an octave and a half — but because of his astonishing facility on the keyboard. If you've never heard his stuff, you've a real treat in store.

I was crushed to learn that he had died on June 30.

Even so, I hear you ask, why am I discussing Smith in a blog devoted to Vince Guaraldi? 

Well, because it's my only venue for jazz chat, and because I adored Smith almost as much as I like Dr. Funk, and mostly because I discovered — to my dismay — that the Web contains very little information of substance about him (and much of what I did find is grossly inaccurate). Wanting to correct that oversight, I've compiled a discography of Smith's recorded output as leader, which you'll find here.

I supposed I could attempt to justify this detour by pointing out that while Smith and Guaraldi never shared a stage (as far as I know), Smith did make a few albums with famed Guaraldi bassist Monty Budwig ... and that seems a sufficient excuse. 

On the other hand, as one of my correspondents cheerfully pointed out awhile back, it is my blog, and I therefore get to make the rules. 

That said, this entry will remain short, and therefore easily ignored if Smith isn't on your radar. 

But he should be...

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