Willie the lion smith

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Willie the lion smith

  1. 1. Willie “The Lion” Smith
  2. 2. Willie Smith was born Henry Joseph Bonaparte Bertholoff on November 25, 1897 in Goshen New York. Son of Frank Bertholoff and Ida Oliver. Raised in Newark New Jersey. Goshen Newark http://www.musicianguide.com/biographies/1608004818/Willie-the-Lion-Smith.html
  3. 3. Willie was a pianist who stood at the center of the New York City jazz world during the 1920s. http://www.musicianguide.com/biographies/1608004818/Willie-the-Lion-Smith.html Willie’s Finger Buster
  4. 4. He performed at the most fashionable nightclubs in New York City’s African- American Harlem neighborhood. He also accompanied other musicians on recordings, while inspiring and mentoring younger musicians. http://www.musicianguide.com/biographies/1608004818/Willie-the-Lion-Smith.html
  5. 5. He is known as a pioneer of stride piano, which was the first important solo piano style in the jazz tradition. Stride piano is a style of jazz piano playing in which the right hand plays the melody while the left hand plays a single bass note or octave on the strong beat and a chord on the weak beat. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/stride+piano?s=t
  6. 6. He is less well known than the other pianists of the 1920s such as James P. Johnson and Thomas P. “Fats” Waller. This was only because he made few recordings under his own name until later in his career. http://www.musicianguide.com/biographies/1608004818/Willie-the-Lion-Smith.html
  7. 7. Charleston
  8. 8. Smith’s musical life began when he found an organ missing half its keys in the basement of the family home, and began trying to imitate the music he heard his mother play in church. At this time he was about 6. http://www.musici anguide.com/biogr aphies/160800481 8/Willie-the-Lion- Smith.html
  9. 9. His Uncle Rob gave him some pointers, and he began hearing ragtime hits from Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag” and George Botsford’s “Black and White Rag.” Maple Leaf Rag http://www.musicianguide.com/biographies/1608004818/Willie-the-Lion-Smith.html
  10. 10. Ragtime Ragtime piano is rhythm in which the accompaniment is strict two-four time and the melody, with improvised embellishments, is in steady syncopation. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ragtime
  11. 11. In search of bigger things Smith moved to Atlantic City, New Jersey. He heard ragtime pianist Eubie Blake, and it wasn’t long before he was making trips into New York City to hear other piano players. Eubie Blake http://www.musicianguide.com/biographies/1608004818/Willie-the-Lion-Smith.html
  12. 12. His career was interrupted when he was enlisted in the U.S. army in 1916 and became an artillery gunner. His unit was sent to France where he dodged poison-gas canisters and inspired an officer to say, “Smith, you’re a lion with that gun.” And from there on he was known as Willie “The Lion” Smith. http://www.musicianguide.com/biographies/1608004818/Willie-the-Lion-Smith.html
  13. 13. After his war duties were over he landed a job at a Harlem’s sharpest club, Leroy’s. He would play solo or be accompanied, an d on any given night some of the top performers, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson or Bert Williams wouldhttp://www.musicianguide.com/biographies/1608004818/Willie-the-Lion-Smith.html
  14. 14. Smith’s 78 rpm record that Mamie Smith and himself made, “Crazy Blues,” is generally regarded as the first blues recording. It became a bestseller and started a decade- long trend in blues vocal recordings by women. http://www.musicianguide.com/biographies/1608004818/Willie-the-Lion-Smith.html
  15. 15. Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington was a pianist who looked up to Willie. He later wrote the introduction to Willie’s memoirs. http://www.musicianguide.com/biographies/1608004818/Willie-the-Lion-Smith.html
  16. 16. Ellington declared that: “the Lion has been the greatest influence on most of the great piano players who have been exposed to his fire, harmonic lavishness, his stride–what a luxury. Fats Waller, James P. Johnson, Count Basie, Donald Lambert, Joe Turner, Sam Ervis and of course I swam in it. Even the great Art Tatum showed strong patterns of Willie Smithisms after being exposed to the Lion” http://www.musicianguide.com/biographies/1608004818/Willie-the-Lion-Smith.html
  17. 17. Count Basie Donald Lambert Joe Turner Art Tatum
  18. 18. New jazz trends had overshadowed Smith’s status as a top jazz attraction. He had an interest in classical music and took classical piano and theory lessons from a German immigrant, Hans Steinke, in the 1930s. http://www.musicianguide.com/biographies/1608004818/Willie-the-Lion-Smith.html
  19. 19. He began to write short, classical-influenced original compositions, to which he turned when he finally got the chance to record. After making some small-band records with a group he called Willie the Lion Smith and His Cubs in 1935, he was signed to the Commodore label and in 1939 released the group of sides for which he was best known. http://www.musicianguide.com/biographies/1608004818/Willie-the-Lion-Smith.html
  20. 20. Several were Smith originals, with names like "Passionette" and "Echoes of Spring"--little tone poems on the piano that mixed jazz elements with classical harmonies. http://www.musicianguide.com/biographies/1608004818/Willie-the-Lion-Smith.html
  21. 21. His solo recordings from 1939 are often reckoned to be his finest work, but he went on making discs well into the 1960s and beyond, some of them including his own spoken comments and repartee, as he demonstrated his playing at the keyboard. http://musicians.allaboutjazz.com/musician.php?id=4460#.UfwDa9K1GPQ
  22. 22. His fame spread when Artie Shaw and Tommy Dorsey performed arrangements of his compositions. Smith toured Europe in 1949 and again in the mid '60s; appeared in the film Jazz Dance in 1954 and wrote his memoirs, Music On My Mind in '65. http://musicians.allaboutjazz.com/musician.php?id=4460#.UfwDa9K1GPQ
  23. 23. Willie “The Lion” Smith lived through six decades of music and, despite the changes in musical styles over those years; he remained true to himself and his own style. http://musicians.allaboutjazz.com/musician.php?id=4460#.UfwDa9K1GPQ
  24. 24. He recorded a final album in Paris in June 1972 and played right up until his death in April 1973. Today, his spirit and his legacy still live on through his music. http://musicians.allaboutjazz.com/musician.php?id=4460#.UfwDa9K1GPQ
  25. 25. Sources Cited "All About Jazz." musicians.allaboutjazz. All About Jazz, 25 Nov 2010. Web. 2 Aug 2013. <http://musicians.allaboutjazz.com/musician.php?id=4460 "Dictionary.com." Dictionary.reference. Dictionary.com. Web. 2 Aug 2013. http://dictionary.reference.com/ Hoefer, George. "Willie the Lion Smith Biography." musicianguide.com. Net Industries, n.d. Web. 24 Jul 2013. http://www.musicianguide.com/biographies/1608004818/Willie-the-Lion- Smith.html

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