Donald Smith Day

September 04, 1943 – April 09, 2022

A tribute to the pianist, singer and flutist

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Pianist, singer, flutist and keyboardist Donald Smith was born on September 04, 1943 in Richmond, Virginia.

The son of a member of the Harmonizing Four, a famous gospel group, Smith majored in music at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Early on he played organ and flute with the Tony Zamora Territorial Band.

A versatile and adventurous performer, Smith worked with a wide variety of performers as a pianist, singer and/or flutist.

The younger brother of keyboardist Lonnie Liston Smith, Donald Smith worked in his brother’s Cosmic Echoes group on and off from 1975 into the late 1990s.

He recorded with such notables as Bobby Hutcherson, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Oliver Lake, Andrew Cyrille, Lester Bowie, Craig Harris, Hamiet Bluiett, Pharoah Sanders, Leon Thomas, the World Saxophone Quartet (a project in which the saxophonists were joined by a rhythm section), Fontella Bass, James Jabbo Ware’s The Me We & Them Orchestra, and most recently an album from 2013 by trombonist Dick Griffin.

Donald Smith, who also worked with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Benny Carter, Archie Shepp, Dizzy Gillespie, and Jackie McLean, led his only album for the Japanese Why Not label, a piano trio session with Cecil McBee and Jack DeJohnette.

Here is Donald Smith in 2007 performing “Morning Is The Time For Miracles” at the head of a sextet.


Donald Smith, piano
Salim Washington, flute
Ku-umba Frank Lacy, trombone
Melanie Dyer, viola
Aaron James, bass
Mark Johnson, drums

-Scott Yanow


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