Jazz 625

Willie “The Lion” Smith

A half-hour with the colorful stride pianist

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Willie “The Lion” Smith was one of the “big three” of stride pianists of the 1920s along with James P. Johnson and Fats Waller.

The Lion was the one who survived, a living legend into the 1970s

This edition of the British television series Jazz 625 from Nov. 7, 1965 features Willie “The Lion” Smith still in prime form, playing distinctive piano, occasionally singing, and telling stores to the enthusiastic audience.

The colorful Lion, wearing his usual bowler hat and always with a cigar in his mouth, is at his best on “Carolina Shout,” “St. Louis Blues,” and a medley of his “Morning Air” and Chopin’s “Polonaise In A.”


Willie “The Lion” Smith, piano
Brian Brocklehurst, bass
Lennie Hastings, drums

-Scott Yanow


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