Stuff Smith Day

August 14, 1909 – September 25, 1967

Bugle Call Blues

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Smith learned to play violin from his father and was inspired to play jazz by the great Louis Armstrong.

After moving to New York in the 1930s, he formed his own quintet and regularly played at the Onyx Club. The group is best known for the hit “If You’re a Viper.”

At the onset of his recording career Stuff scored his first hit with “I’se A Muggin’” for Vocalion in 1936 and was featured on the Nat King Cole Trio’s LP “After Midnight.”

He is also credited as author of the swing era reefer song “If You’re a Viper,” famously performed by Fats Waller, and was the first violinist to use electric amplification.

After working with big name jazz stars like Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong throughout their careers, Smith would begin performing actively in Europe after moving to Copenhagen, Denmark in 1965.

Smith, who continued to play until his passing in 1967, is considered one of the greatest jazz violinists.

Stuff Smith performs in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1965 with “The Montmartre Trio.”


Stuff Smith, violin
Kenny Drew, piano
N.H. Orsted Pedersen, bass
Alex Riel, drums


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