Celebration of Fred Smith's Birthday with Travel Through the History of Jazz: Part 2-- The Jazz Age: Swing is the Thing


Sign in to view read count
Fred Smith is an icon of our times. He has amassed an incredible wealth of experience as a performing musician and jazz historian. To celebrate Fred's birthday is a celebration of Fred's life. To experience Fred Smith is but a gift! Jazz historian Clarence Irving, multi-instrumentalist Premik Russell Tubbs and many others will be on board to help make this celebration one that is fitting for Fred's 76th birthday...guaranteed to be a night you will remember for years to come.

This evening Fred will take you on a wondrous journey down a path that may be familiar, but with Fred as your guide, you are guaranteed to view this landscape has never before experienced. His music laced stories hold surprise, open the mind to times and places of history and are guaranteed to warm you this October evening.

Fred is joined by The Fred Smith Jazz Ensemble which is a group of seasoned and EXTREMELY talented musicians. Fred, in his own words, 'stacks the deck' here!

On piano will be innovative Tom Kohl tickling the keys. Tom's interest in jazz began at an early age after first hearing recordings of Chick Corea and Bill Evan's. After studying jazz at the University of Massachussetts Tom returned to the NY area to perform, record and teach. As a leader he's recorded several well received CD's of trio and duo music: Voice of Choice� and Twain�. Tom continues to lead a trio featuring harmonic, modern originals as well as standards. Tom's music career spans many years having worked with great artists such as Quincy Jones, Clark Terry, Richard Davis and Marc Johnson. Tom Kohl

Playing bass will be Bill Crow who has a very colorful history but too much to be covered in this short article! It was Lily Tomlin who introduced him to modeling and commercials while playing at the Playboy Club in 1968. Bill Crow is both a jazz bassist and author. He has played with bands led by many a great from, Gerry Mulligan, Al Cohn & Zoot Sims, Quincy Jones, Benny Goodman, Ray Charles (childhood friend too!), Marian McPartland to name but a few. Bill has played Broadway shows, including Boccaccio, Rogers & Hart, The King and I, The Grand Tour, Morrisey Hall, On the Twentieth Century, and 42nd Street. Bill Crow Wikipedia Bill Crow

Earl Williams began his interest and love of drumming at the young age of eleven. At the time, he resided in Detroit, Michigan where he studied at the Detroit Conservatory of Music and the Detroit Institute of Musical Arts. Upon reaching age fourteen Earl had progressed to playing professionally around Detroit with the likes of such artists as Lester Young, Barry Harris, Della Reese, and Yusef Lateef. After graduating high school he left Detroit and toured with his father's (Paul “Hucklebuck" Williams) big band, eventually finding his way to New York. The famous New York City Apollo Theatre became home as well were he worked as house drummer. As his diversity and reputation grew Earl made his way to becoming a studio musician playing on all types of recordings including radio and television commercials. His television credits include a year at WNET with the Reuben Phillips Orchestra on the “Soul Show," two and a half years at NBC with Seldon Powell on the Someone New show with host Leon Bibb, and a year at ABC with the Charles Randolph Grean Orchestra on the Jack Parr Show. Earl Williams also has several Broadway shows to his credit, among them are Funny Girl, Hair, Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope, and A Chorus Line. Earl Williams

And then of course there is the highlight of the night himself, Fred Smith. A consummate musician but add to his credits that of author, lecturer and businessman. Few have accomplished as much as Fred in a lifetime. Fred has played with many a great but for this article we'll concentrate on those whose influence helped him as a person and his career.

In his early days Fred worked as a social worker and it was this foundation which lead his tying music to jazz history and the development of a program for both kids and adults. His greatest influences are as follows. First and foremost having influenced Fred was his mother, Dela Smith. She played for her church and he still has vivid memories of sitting along side of her as she would practice for hours, both singing harmonies. Her honed piano skills were all developed by ear, thus being Fred's first training in music. Second in line was his Uncle 'Toggle' Smith a tenor saxophonist. Can only imagine what family gatherings must have been like! Third was 'cool' Milton Bell who played trumpet and lived a very righteous and clean life. This was who Fred would later modeled himself after deciding early on to stay clear of alcohol and drugs. Fourth is Honi Cole a renowned tap dancer and manager of the Apollo Theatre. He helped Fred find work in those days and was a heart of encouragement. Next is Al Cobbs. Fred played with his band and 'lived' swing as it came into being as a music style.

Fred Smith has performed as a jazz musician in concerts both nationally and internationally. He was the music director for the Harlem Blues & Jazz Band playing at jazz festivals and concerts throughout Europe and the United States. In 1998 the band was inducted into the Museum of the City of New York's Wall of Fame. Mr Smith conducts, workshops and seminars at schools , colleges and other cultural institutions. Order, logic , discipline and determination are the ingredients necessary to play music in a serious manner while still having fun. Now at 76 Fred has cut his 6 mile run down to a 3 mile walk 5 days a week. He is truly a Porsche...still in mint condition! So join in the party as Fred shares the secrets and stores of his life and GREAT music ...all at the at the BeanRunner Café. Fred Smith Trumpet The Fred Smith Jazz Ensemble

There is so much more that could be added to above regarding this unique performance sceduled for this evening but the long of the short of it is to be sure to join in the celebration on Saturday night to see for yourself. The BeanRunner Café is a family run business with a warm, friendly and intimate atmosphere. The walls of the BeanRunner are a rotating art gallery adding interest to this venue. When shows, the lights are dimmed and the focus IS the entertainment. The BeanRunner provides a simple but varied menu so come early and enjoy dinner with a glass of wine or beer. Seating is first come first serve so plan ahead for a great night out with friends and family Reservations are not required but highly recommended. Suggested arrival time is 7:30.

Visit Website



Timely announcements from the industry.

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY IT!  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.