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Primary Instrument: Trumpet

Born: May 20, 1931

Louis Smith is a talented, but under recorded, straight-ahead bop trumpeter who led two dates in the '50s before retiring to teach at the University of Michigan and the nearby Ann Arbor Public School system. For most of his career, he remained a teacher, making a brief comeback in the late '70s before returning to education. It wasn't until the mid-'90s that he began a recording career in earnest, turning out a series of albums for the Steeplechase label.

A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Louis Smith began playing trumpet as a teenager. He graduated high school with a scholarship to Tennessee State University, where he studied music and became a member of the Tennessee State Collegians. Folllowing his college graduation, Smith did a little graduate work at Tennessee before transferring to the University of Michigan, where he studied with professor Clifford Lillya. At Michigan, he had opportunities to play with traveling musicians, including Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie.

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