Lavay Smith

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Lavay Smith in 2007

Lavay Smith is an American singer specialising in the Blues and Jazz, from Swing to Bebop. Smith tours internationally with her 8-piece "little big band", Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers. She is known as The Queen of Classic Jazz & Blues[citation needed].


Lavay Smith hails from Southern California, and spent her teenage years in the Philippines. When she moved back to Southern California, Smith began singing in local cafés, performing rock, blues and even country music. After falling in love with the classic jazz and blues of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, Smith moved to San Francisco, CA and started performing in the city's night clubs in 1989.[1]

Smith performs her own original compositions as well as songs made famous by the great women of Jazz and Blues, including Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Helen Humes, Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, Big Maybelle and Esther Phillips.

Smith has toured extensively since 1998. She has performed in 43 states, has toured to Japan 3 times, and has performed in Canada, Mexico, Finland and Greece. Lavay has performed at many large Jazz and Blues Festivals including The Chicago Jazz Festival, The Monterey Jazz Festival, The Montreal Jazz Festival, The Ottawa Jazz Festival, The Playboy Jazz Festival at The Hollywood Bowl, The Salt Lake City Jazz Festival, The San Francisco Blues Festival, The San Francisco Jazz Festival, The Toronto Jazz Festival, Jazz Aspen/Snowmass and Midsummer Night’s Swing at Lincoln Center in New York City.

Smith regularly appears at jazz and blues clubs around the country, including Dizzy's Coca Cola Club at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York, Sculler's in Boston, The Green Mill in Chicago, The Dakota in Minneapolis, Jazz Alley in Seattle and The Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis. When not on tour, she appears regularly at festivals and night clubs in the San Francisco Bay Area, including Biscuits & Blues, The Cafe du Nord, Club DeLuxe, Enrico's, Ashkenaz, Rancho Nicasio and Moe's Alley.

Lavay Smith has won numerous awards, including the San Francisco Chronicle reader's choice poll for best band. American dance legend and Lindy Hop pioneer Frankie Manning chose Lavay Smith and her band to perform on a Caribbean cruise for his 90th birthday in May, 2004. Ms. Smith is an independent artist and owns her own record label, Fat Note Records

Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers[edit]

Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers

Ms. Smith formed her band, "Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers" in San Francisco, CA in 1989. The group originally consisted of Trumpet, Piano, Guitar, Bass and Drums. The band grew in size over time, and since 1996, Lavay has performed and toured with an 8-piece lineup (4 horns and 4 rhythm) consisting of Trumpet, Trombone, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Piano, Guitar, Bass and Drums. Occasionally, Lavay expands the band to 10 pieces (6 horns and 4 rhythm) by adding a second Trumpet and a Baritone. Lavay also performs with a full 16-piece big band.

Today, the band consists of Bill Ortiz (Trumpet); Mike Olmos (Trumpet); Danny Armstrong (Trombone); Jules Broussard (Alto and Tenor Saxophones); Charles McNeal (Alto and Tenor Saxophones); Howard Wiley (Tenor Saxophone); Robert Stewart (Tenor Saxophone); Pete Cornell (Alto, Tenor and Baritone Saxophones); Charlie Siebert (Guitar); David Ewell (String Bass); Marcus Shelby (String Bass); Darrell Green (Drums) and Chris Siebert (Piano, Arranger, Bandleader). The band's arrangements are written by Chris Siebert and noted New York arranger David Berger.[2]

Lavay's band members have performed with many famous musicians:[2]

Tenor Saxophone player Robert Stewart has performed or recorded with Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Jimmy Smith, McCoy Tyner, Freddie Hubbard, Pharaoh Sanders, Donald Byrd, Eddie Harris, Benny Golson, John Lee Hooker, Les McCann, Billy Higgins, Bobby Hutcherson, Jon Hendricks, Milt Jackson, Cassandra Wilson, Etta Jones, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Roy Hargrove, John Handy, Joshua Redman, Joe Lovano and has toured with Wynton Marsalis & The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra for 4 years. He recorded for Quincy Jones' Qwest Records and tours the world under his own name.

Trumpet player Bill Ortiz has performed with Tito Puente, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter and has been Carlos Santana's Trumpet player for over 7 years.

Trumpet player Mike Olmos has performed with Etta James and Rosemary Clooney.

Trombone player Danny Armstrong has performed with Johnny Otis, Rufus Thomas, Ann Peebles and Archie Bell & The Drells.

Alto and Tenor Saxophone player Jules Broussard has performed with Ray Charles, Esther Phillips, Big Mama Thornton, Earl Grant, Santana, Steve Miller, Van Morrison and Boz Scaggs.

Alto and Tenor Saxophone player Charles McNeal has performed with John Faddis, Wynton Marsalis, Leslie Drayton, McCoy Tyner, Barbara Morrison, Junior Mance, Roberta Flack, The Temptations and Ruth Brown.

Tenor Saxophone player Howard Wiley and Bassist David Ewell toured with Lauryn Hill throughout 2007. David Ewell also tours with Piano player Marc Cary.

Drummer Darrell Green has performed with Dr. Lonnie Smith, Marlena Shaw, Jeremy Pelt, Stephon Harris and Tony Monaco. He has toured to Europe several times with Sherman Irby, Alto Saxophone player with The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.

Former Trumpet player Allen Smith, who died on February 3, 2011[3] had performed with Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones, Benny Goodman, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett.

Former Tenor Saxophone player Ron Stallings, who died on April 13, 2009[4] had performed with Joe Williams, Big Joe Turner, Jimmy McCracklin, Ruth Brown, Louis Bellson, Gladys Knight, Otis Rush and Dr. John and had been a long-time member of Huey Lewis and the News.

Lavay Smith released her third album, "Miss Smith To You!" for her independent record label, Fat Note Records on September 8, 2009.



  1. ^ Phares, Heather. "Lavay Smith: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-08-24. 
  2. ^ a b Lavay Smith - Meet the Band Retrieved April 30, 2013
  3. ^ Vaziri, Aidin (10 February 2011). "Allen Smith - esteemed S.F. jazz trumpeter - dies". SFGate. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  4. ^ Vaziri, Aidin (16 April 2011). "Ron Stallings, prominent saxophonist, dies". SFGate. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  5. ^ Burger, Jeff. "Everybody's Talkin' Bout Miss Thing". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-08-24. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Vale, V.; Marian Wallace (1998). Swing! The New Retro Renaissance (V/Search). San Francisco: Re/Search Publications. p. 214 pages. ISBN 1-889307-02-5;

ISBN 978-1-889307-02-2. 

External links[edit]