Crickett Smith

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The intriguing career of early jazz trumpeter Crickett Smith includes playing trumpet in the Ziegfield Follies and finishing out his life in India. Not only is he the only member of the Ziegfield Follies…
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The intriguing career of early jazz trumpeter Crickett Smith includes playing trumpet in the Ziegfield Follies and finishing out his life in India. Not only is he the only member of the Ziegfield Follies backing band about which such a claim can be made, he is surely one of the few American jazzmen to actually settle in India, a development that not so mysteriously came about as a result of Leon Abbey's touring activities. Abbey took his groups far and wide around the globe well before the U.S. State Department figured out that this form of American music could be so helpful in maintaining at least some goodwill toward the superpower. Smith, whose uncle Arthur Briggs was also a trumpeter, was playing music even before the term jazz was invented, starting out on the road with a group called Mahara's Minstrels before the 20th century was even underway.

"From Nashville to Bombay" would be a catchy title for an autobiographical tome about this artist as well as another way to illustrate the wide breadth of his career. As a professional he seemed to find New York City more inviting than Tennessee and found work in the bands of both Ford Dabney and Jim Europe. Following the first World War Smith went to France where he began the first of several long stints with Louis Mitchell; one of their house-band jobs was at the Casino de Paris. Between this and other Mitchell jobs the trumpeter was back stateside in the Chef Club Orchestra -- this was all still prior to the official start of the Roaring Twenties. Smith was in Europe for most of the '20s, playing with Grover Compton in 1927 before heading away to the most exotic locations imaginable with the aforementioned Abbey. When that band hit India, Smith decided to stay put. He stayed there until his death, his body embalmed and then shipped back to be buried in his homeland of birth.