Cultural Percussionist

Stuff Smith Day

Hezekiah Leroy Gordon Smith (August 14, 1909 – September 25, 1967), better known as Stuff Smith, was an American jazz violinist. He is well known for the song “If You’re a Viper” (the original title was “You’se a Viper”).

Smith was, along with Stéphane Grappelli, Michel Warlop, Svend Asmussen and Joe Venuti, one of jazz music’s preeminent violinists of the swing era. He was born in Portsmouth, Ohio, in 1909 and studied violin with his father. Smith cited Louis Armstrong as his primary influence and inspiration to play jazz, and like Armstrong, was a vocalist as well as instrumentalist. In the 1920s, he played in Texas as a member of Alphonse Trent‘s band. After moving to New York City he performed regularly with his sextet at the Onyx Club starting in 1935 and also with Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and later, Sun Ra.

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