Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b Henry Smith, 26 August 1904, Ellis County TX; d 10 August 1991, Dallas) Alto sax, other instruments; arranger, leader. Began on piano and organ, switched to clarinet in teens; he began on alto c.1922 and played in local bands. To Oklahoma City '25, joined the Blue Devils led by trombonist Emir Coleman and stayed under new leader Walter Page. He co-led the Barons of Rhythm with Count Basie briefly; led his own band, played with Claude Hopkins in Iowa '36, back to Basie as staff arranger. He did not want to go to NYC with Basie; worked with Andy Kirk, led his own bands in Kansas City, did go to NYC to work as an arranger with Gene Krupa, then Hot Lips Page. He again led his own band in Virginia, worked with Don Redman, Eddie Durham, Snub Mosley, returned to K.C. '42 and had residencies there, worked in Southwest. As an arranger he worked with the best; on alto sax he influenced Lester Young and Charlie Parker. He made one album under his own name for Atlantic in Fort Worth '59; he was still playing gigs on bass guitar and led a band in Dallas '88.