b. 1945, Dallas, Texas, USA. Smith was encouraged from an early age to take music lessons. Growing up in the rural area of central California where his parents were sharecroppers, he began studying piano although he was primarily self-taught. In the 60s, he served in the army, training as a medic. He continued to play music, forming a blues band, Blind Melon. Sitting in with blues artist Freddie King, whose regular piano player had failed to turn up for a club date, led to a job on Smith’s release from the army. He toured with King and then played with various other artists of the blues, jazz, country and pop worlds. Among them have been Gerald Albright, Jeff Beck, Rick Braun, Coke Escovedo, Gladys Knight, Willie Nelson, Phil Perry, Tower Of Power and Peter White.
In 1996, Smith, who also plays Hammond B3, made his own name debut with My Colors. During the time that this album was in the making, Smith’s son and father both died and the resulting emotional turmoil added a dark edge to his music, a quality that set it notably apart from many smooth jazz releases. His next release, Both Sides, appeared in the Top 10 on Billboard’s Contemporary Jazz chart for 17 weeks, and a number of awards followed. With its smoothly reflective surface and the hidden depths of soul, Smith’s playing appeals not only to audiences for smooth jazz but also to those who appreciate the spikier seasoning he provides by way of elements of funk and R&B. Among musicians with whom Smith has worked and who have appeared on his albums, are Dave Koz, guitarists Ray Obiedo and Michael Gregory.