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About Bill Smith

Not to be confused with another prominent Bill Smith (co-editor of Coda and a notable avant-garde soprano saxophonist), this particular Bill Smith has been associated with Dave Brubeck on and off through the decades. Smith studied at Julliard School and with Darius Milhaud at Mills College. He was part of the Dave Brubeck Octet during 1947-51 (a recording resulted) and was always open to the idea of utilizing ideas from the modern classical music world in jazz. Unlike Brubeck, Smith became a college professor, teaching at USC. However he recorded with Red Norvo (1957), Shelly Manne (his "Concerto For Clarinet and Combo" in 1957) and three advanced records for Fantasy in Paul Desmond's place with the Dave Brubeck Quartet (1959-61). After winning a Guggenheim Fellowship for composition, Smith spent six years in Italy, part of the time leading the American Jazz Ensemble. Bill Smith taught at the University of Washington and since 1982 has been a regular member of Brubeck's Quartet, alternating with Bobby Militello. In addition to his many later recordings with Brubeck and a couple with his American Jazz Ensemble, Smith recorded as a leader for Contemporary (1959), a couple titles from a live "Americans In Europe" concert for Impulse (1963), and for the Italian Edi-Pan (1977) and Jazz Music (1978) labels. ~ Scott Yanow

Sacramento, CA
Sep 22, 1926