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Hezekiah Leroy Gordon Smith (August 14, 1909 - September 25, 1967), better known as Stuff Smith, was a jazz violinist.

Smith was, with Stéphane Grappelli and Joe Venuti, among the preeminent violinists of the swing era. He was born in Portsmouth, Ohiomarker 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 territory band. After moving to New Yorkmarker he had a regular gig with his sextet at the Onyx Club starting in 1935 and also performed with Coleman Hawkins as well as with younger musicians such as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, and later, Sun Ra.

Smith was critical of the bebop movement, although his own style represented a transition between swing and bebop. He is credited as being the first violinist to use electric amplification techniques on a violin. He contributed to the song "It's Wonderful" (1938) often performed by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald throughout their careers. Smith moved to Copenhagenmarker in 1965, performed actively in Europe, and died in Munichmarker in 1967. He is buried at Klakring Cemestery in Jutland, Denmark.

Stuff Smith is one of the 57 jazz musicians photographed in the iconic 1958 portrait A Great Day in Harlem.



  • Barnett, Anthony. Almost Like Being In Bop: a Not-So-Brief Account of the Hidden History of the Swing to Recorded Bebop and Progressive Violin in America and Europe. Lewes, East Sussex: AB Fable, 2005.
  • Pullman, Peter, ed. Liner notes to stuff smith - dizzy gillespie - oscar peterson, Verve Records 314 521 676-2
  • Barnett, Anthony. Desert Sands: The Performances and Recordings of Stuff Smith: An Annotated Discography and Biographical Source Book. Lewes, East Sussex: Allardyce, Barnett, Publishers, 1995.

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