Personalities | Willie ‘The Lion’ Smith | Thirties | Jazz & Blues
In the 1920s Willie ‘The Lion’ Smith was an obscure master of Harlem stride (a virtuoso style that evolved out of ragtime after 1919) whose brilliant technique influenced countless young pianists who heard him in person. His legend began to emerge in 1935 as stride was fading into nostalgia and he started to record regularly. For the next four decades, he would be celebrated as a living piece of jazz history – derby and cigar intact. His compositions, such as ‘Echoes Of Spring’ and ‘Passionette’, show an unexpected, impressionistic strain.
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