Willie "Long Time" Smith

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Active in the vital recording years following the second World War, this pianist and vocalist is one of a small team of blues and jazz performers named Willie Smith. Nicknames apparently did a great deal…
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Active in the vital recording years following the second World War, this pianist and vocalist is one of a small team of blues and jazz performers named Willie Smith. Nicknames apparently did a great deal of good in making sure the right one would show up for a job. The most obscure of the batch who manage to have recording credits, this performer is known as Willie "Long Time" Smith on his sides from the '40s and '50s. Better known nominal compatriots include the Chicago blues drummer known as Willie "Big Eyes" Smith as well as everyone's mane (ouch!) man on stride piano, Willie "The Lion" Smith.

The provocatively titled Columbia compilation Beauty of the Blues puts Long Time in company of others long on talent such as Bessie Smith, no relation, as well as Big Bill Broonzy, Memphis Minnie, and Blind Boy Fuller. Willie Smith's track on this fine set expresses the fairly common concern of "Homeless Blues," his status on the blues scene comparable to other obscurities in the program -- Arizona Dranes, for example, a name that sounds like a western plumbing company. Boogie was a theme popular with Smith, other tracks that have been included on compilations including the slimy "Dirty Deal Boogie" and the amorous "I Love You Baby Boogie."