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Hezekiah Leroy Gordon Smith

American jazz violinist. Born 1909 in Portsmouth, Ohio; died 1967 in Munich, Germany.

Stuff Smith's decisive breakthrough came in the mid-1930s, while he was playing his characteristic, electrically-amplified violin at the Onyx Club in New York. He had a long career, but one that was full of ups and downs. He played with Nat King Cole, Jelly Roll Morton, Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson. When Fats Waller died in 1942, Stuff Smith took over Waller's band, for a few years, before turning to smaller ensembles.

Smith's powerful rhythmic drive, and intense phrasing (which has been likened to "treating the violin as if it were a trombone") has ensured him a place as one of the great figures (with Joe Venuti and Stephane Grappelli) in the (fairly small) host of jazz violinists.

For the last 2-3 years of his life, Stuff Smith lived in Denmark (like so many other American jazz greats).

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