On Jazz 625 – 1965

Willie “The Lion” Smith

The great stride pianist at his best

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Willie “The Lion” Smith (1893-1973) was one of the big three of stride pianists in the 1920s along with his pals James P. Johnson and Fats Waller.

Smith, who could play hard-driving stride but also wrote impressionistic and picturesque originals, outlived his contemporaries and in the 1960s was one of the last survivors of the early stride era.

He is featured on a Nov. 7, 1965 British television show performing James P. Johnson’s “Carolina Shout,” his own “Morning Air,” “Polonaise In A,” “St. Louis Blues,” “Dardanella” and “Nagasaki.”

Smith, who clearly enjoyed talking to the appreciative audience, is assisted by bassist Brian Brocklehurst and drummer Lennie Hastings.

72 at the time, Willie “The Lion” Smith was still in his musical prime, playing delightful music.

-Scott Yanow


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