Another pianist, primarily noted for his impeccable accompaniment of singers but who was also a soloist of wide ranging abilities, died today. Paul Smith was 91. He was probably best known for his work with Ella Fitzgerald. He also played for Mel Tormé, Sarah Vaughan and Doris Day, among others. Early in his career, he worked with Ozzie Nelson, Les Paul and Tommy Dorsey. For a quarter of a century, he was the music director for Steve Allen’s television program. With his 1954 album Liquid Sounds, Smith crossed markets, achieving success with both jazz and easy-listening audiences. As a leader, he recorded dozens of albums.
Singer Lyn Stanley, a friend who studied with Smith and whom he accompanied, told Don Heckman of The Los Angeles Times, “Paul was a perfectionist and worked every day to improve his art. When you worked with him, he expected the same of you.” To read Heckman’s obituary of Smith, go here.
Here is Smith playing for his family on his 90th birthday, April 17, 2012.