Paul Smith | Jazz pianist, 91

Posted: July 08, 2013

Paul Smith, 91, a jazz pianist who accompanied many top singers and who provided the sensitive touch and rhythmic spark behind many of Ella Fitzgerald's most acclaimed performances, died June 29 at a hospital in Torrance, Calif., of heart ailments, said his publicist, Alan Eichler.

Mr. Smith, whose career lasted more than 70 years, worked with two of the biggest musical acts of the 1940s, the Andrews Sisters and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, before settling in Hollywood, where he performed on the sound tracks of hundreds of films and television shows.

He stood an imposing 6-foot-5 and could span 12 notes on the piano with each hand. Despite his physique, Smith was known for a delicate touch at the keyboard that few could match. He made more than 50 recordings as a leader of his own groups, but he spent much of his career working in the shadow of such topflight singers as Sarah Vaughan, Nat "King" Cole, Doris Day, Bing Crosby, Jo Stafford, Rosemary Clooney, Anita O'Day, and Sammy Davis Jr. - Washington Post

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