Joe "Fox" Smith

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Joe "Fox" Smith had one of the prettiest tones and most lyrical styles of any jazz soloist in the 1920s, and he was Bessie Smith's favorite sideman. Most of Smith's family played trumpet, including…
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Joe "Fox" Smith had one of the prettiest tones and most lyrical styles of any jazz soloist in the 1920s, and he was Bessie Smith's favorite sideman. Most of Smith's family played trumpet, including his father, Luke Smith, Sr. (who led a brass band) and his six brothers; three were professionals including Russell Smith, who played first trumpet with Fletcher Henderson. After working locally, Smith toured throughout the Midwest and East Coast, visiting New York for the first time in 1920. He arrived in Chicago in 1921, joining the Black Swan Jazz Masters (under the direction of Fletcher Henderson) and accompanying Ethel Waters. After a stint with Mamie Smith's Jazz Hounds (1922-1923), Smith worked with Billy Paige's Broadway Syncopators, directed a band for Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake, and backed comedian Johnny Hudgins. Smith was a regular member of Fletcher Henderson's band between 1925 and 1928, making many recordings (although none as a leader) with Henderson and with a variety of blues singers (in addition to Bessie Smith). After leaving Henderson, Smith played with Allie Ross, McKinney's Cotton Pickers (1929-1930), had second stints with both Henderson and the Cotton Pickers, and worked a bit in Kansas City. Unfortunately, he became ill with tuberculosis and died at the age of 35 from paresis.