Pianist Willie "the Lion" Smith was born this date in 1897 in Goshen, N.Y. He was one of the top Stride pianists on the New York jazz scene from the 1930s into the 1970s. He died in 1973.
Another jazzman named Willie Smith, a Swing Era alto saxophonist, was born this day in 1910 in Charleston, S.C. He worked with the Jimmy Lunceford, Charlie Spivak and Harry James bands, and briefly replaced Johnny Hodges in the Duke Ellington Orchestra. He died in 1967.
Saxophonist Paul Desmond was born this date in 1924 in San Francisco. He was best known for his longstanding work with the Dave Brubeck Quartet and wrote the Brubeck band's signature tune, "Take Five." Paul Desmond died in 1977.
Swing pianist Dick Wellstood was born this day in 1927 in Greenwich, Conn. He died in 1987.
Trumpeter Nat Adderley was born this day in 1931 in Tampa, Fla. After the 1975 death of his elder brother and band-mate Cannonball Adderley, Nat maintained the spirit of their important musical collaboration with his own quintet until his passing on Jan. 2, 2000.
Looking at today's hip happenings...
On the New York jazz scene, pianist Abdullah Ibrahim's trio winds down a weeklong run at Iridium tonight. Pianist Brad Mehldau and his trio conclude their latest Village Vanguard engagement tonight. This is the last night to catch drummer Roy Haynes' all-star unit with Kenny Garrett, Nicholas Payton, Christian McBride and Dave Kikoski at the Blue Note. The Chico O'Farrill Afro-Cuban Jazz Big Band is at Birdland tonight. Guitarist Al DiMeola's band is at the B.B. King Blues Club tonight. Shoko Nagai is at the Knitting Factory. Singer Whitney Marchelle and the Hank Johnson Trio are at the Up Over Jazz Café in Brooklyn tonight. Singer Linda Ciofalo's quartet performs at this afternoon's jazz brunch at the Garage Restaurant and Café in Greenwich Village near Sheridan Square.
Singer Carrie Jackson and the James L. Dean Big Band are at Tierney's Tavern in Montclair, N.J., tonight, performing the music of Thad Jones, Dizzy Gillespie, Howard McGhee and Oliver Nelson.
Keyboardist Alex Bugnon is at Blues Alley in Washington, D.C., tonight.
Timbalero Sammy DeLeon and his orchestra perform tonight at the East Cleveland Public Library.
On the Chicago jazz scene, trumpeter Roy Hargrove's quintet winds down a weeklong run at the Jazz Showcase tonight. The Sonny Turner quintet is at Joe's BeBop Café and Jazz Emporium on the Navy Pier.
In New Orleans, Joe Krown performs at the jazz and blues brunch at Cobalt. New Orleans Streetbeat is at the Crescent City Brewhouse this evening. Singer Topsy Chapman joins David Torkanowsky and friends at Donna's tonight. David Dunbar and Ian McPhail are at El Matador. The Lars Edegran jazz trio plays at the jazz brunch at Indigo today. Kermit Ruffins and his Barbecue Swingers and the ReBirth Brass Band are at Joe's Cozy Corner tonight. Harold 'Duke' Dejean's Olympia Brass Band is at Preservation Hall. The Albert Ankrum Project is at Snug Harbor. Barbara Shorts is at the Storyville District Jazz Parlor.
Saxophonist Dave Koz and Friends bring their month-long "Smooth Jazz Christmas" tour to the Red River Music Hall in Tempe, Ariz., tonight.
On the California jazz scene, singer Alan Paul's trio is at the Catalina Bar and Grill in North Hollywood tonight. Tuck and Patti are at Yoshi's in Oakland for matinee and evening performances. The Alcatraz Angels Jazz Band is at Dick's Restaurant in San Leandro this afternoon. Jules Broussard is at Sweetwater in Mill Valley. The Lost Trio is at Cato's Ale House in Oakland tonight. Yancy Taylor and the Jazz Experience are at The Fifth Amendment in Oakland.
Tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander heads to Japan today for his fifth tour as a bandleader. His quintet this time out includes pianist Harold Mabern, trumpeter Ryan Kisor, bassist Nat Reeves and drummer Joe Farnsworth. When he gets back to New York in December, Alexander will record his third Milestone album, which will feature trumpeter Nicholas Payton.
Take Six is at the Blue Note jazz club in Tokyo tonight through Saturday.