SEMJA Honors Louis Smith
SEMJA will give this year's Ron Brooks Award to Louis Smith for his contributions to the Southeastern Michigan jazz community as a trumpeter and educator. We will celebrate him with a concert and award ceremony on Sunday, March 13, at 4:00 p.m. at Kerrytown Concert House in Ann Arbor.
Smith came to Ann Arbor in the late 1950s to work as a high school teacher and eventually in the jazz program at the University of Michigan. Before becoming an educator he was a member of the Horace Silver quintet and recorded several albums under his own name on Blue Note. About the time he retired from teaching he returned to recording (on Steeplechase) and performed locally and internationally (particularly in Paris).
In 2005, Louis had a stroke and has since been in therapy to regain his ability to speak. He has been helped a lot by the music therapist at the U-M Aphasia clinic, Lynn Chenoweth, and by the support of his wife, Lulu.
Music for the awards event will be provided by the Louis Smith All Stars, former Smith band members under the direction of drummer Sean Dobbins. The All Stars include Alex Graham on alto sax, Rick Roe on piano, and Kurt Krahnke on bass. Smith and Roe both took part in Graham's debut recording in 1995 (Countdown on Schoolkids Records). Graham has since moved to New York City, where he has recorded several albums under his own name. The group will be performing numbers from Smith's recordings as well as some of the standards he often performed.