Sunday, April 25, 2010

for willie the lion smith (26)

for william henry joseph bonaparte bertholoff smith
aka willie the lion
(1893 -1973)

a derby wearing, cigar puffing legend in his

time, a peerless tickler’s tickler & myth come alive.
on any given night, he might be king of the rent
party, a spellbinding showman in segregated

atlantic city clubs or mentoring savant to

ellington, biederbecke, the dorseys & artie shaw.

a musician’s musician, composer of over
one hundred songs, at his very best favorably
compared to gershwin & the duke himself. his left hand,
the envy of every pianist in jazz. he was
there for all who sought him out -- & gave freely of his

prodigy -- but to the duke, his protégé, bestowed
his special graces, that touch of immortality.

© Joseph McNair;2010

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