Artistic integrity permeates Regina Harris Baiocchi‘s music, poetry and prose. There’s warmth, intelligence, honesty and compassion that touch our very depths. In all the works Regina has created, I’ve felt richly rewarded to experience the world through her eyes, ears and heart.
Cleveland native Hale Smith, Jr. (1925-2009) began piano studies at age 7. As a young man Smith worked in his dad’s printing business and Jazz ensembles. One of his first gigs was as Dizzy Gillespie’s sideman. Smith often recalled the gig fondly and credited Dizzy with his earliest “woodshed” experience.
After a stint in the army, Smith studied at Cleveland Institute with Marcel Dick, earning the Bachelor and Master of Music in Composition. Shortly afterwards he moved to New York, where he edited music for E. B. Marks, Frank Music, Peters and Sam Fox publishers.
Smith’s motto, “To master music, master life” is exemplified in extensive body of work: Evocation (piano, 1950), Contours (orchestra, 1962), Music for Harp and Orchestra (1967), Jazz cantata: Comes Tomorrow (1972), Ritual and Incantation (1974); film, TV and radio music, program annotations and articles.
Smith’s music is performed by Cleveland Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Detroit Symphony, et al orchestras; Kathleen Battle, Jessye Norman, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Melba Liston, Betty Carter; and recorded on Deutsche Gramophone and CRI. Smith taught at Long Island University and University of Connecticut.
Among Hale Smith’s trademarks: nattily-tailored suit, hand-fashioned bowtie and matching silk handkerchief. I never saw Hale in public without hand-rolled cigars and paraphernalia in one breast pocket, and Mont Blanc pens in the other. Hale possessed an impeccable “hand” for music engraving and calligraphy. He was a gentleman who enjoyed single-malt scotch and holding court.
Hale Smith was generous with his time, talent and treasures. Lessons I learned under Hale’s tutelage will serve me for the rest of my life. Marilyn Harris, Cecil Bridgewater, Wynton Marsalis, Nkeiru Okoye and I among the long list of Hale Smith protégés.
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