Cultural Percussionist

Johnny Smith Day

John Henry Smith II (June 25, 1922 – June 11, 2013) was an American cool jazz and mainstream jazz guitarist. He wrote “Walk, Don’t Run” in 1954. In 1984, Smith was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.

During the Great Depression, Smith’s family moved from Birmingham, Alabama, through several cities, ending up in Portland, Maine.

An extremely diverse musician, Johnny Smith was equally at home playing in the famous Birdland jazz club or sight-reading scores in the orchestral pit of the New York Philharmonic. From Schoenberg to Gershwin to originals, Smith was one of the most versatile guitarists of the 1950s.

As a staff studio guitarist and arranger for NBC from 1946 to 1951, and on a freelance basis thereafter until 1958, he played in a variety of settings from solo to full orchestra and had his own trio, The Playboys, with Mort Lindsey and Arlo Hults.

 

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