Friday, September 16, 2016

The Girl With Sax Appeal

As it's been the case with many women instrumentalists from the early years of jazz, sadly, the name of singer and tenor saxophonist Betty Smith (1929-2011) doesn't mean much today. The cloud of forgetfulness has again cast its dark shadow.

Once dubbed as "the girl with sax appeal", Betty Smith started playing saxophone at the age of 9 and joined an all-girl touring saxophone septet when only 15. Things continued to succeed quickly: at 19 she was married to trumpetist Jack Peberdy; forming her own quintet at the age of 26 and expanding her touring activities to continental Europe and beyond until the 1980s when illness prevented her from further musical activities.

I don't care much about her singing, but her saxophone playing has that mainstream groove and sweet delivery. Case in point: a track from an RCA EP (picture above) featuring Betty Smith on tenor, Terry Walsh on guitar, Brian Lemon on piano, the husband Jack Peberdy on bass, and Stan Bourke on drums, recorded in London, 11 November 1957. It's called Who's Sorry Now?.

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