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Book: Kansas City Jazz

Chapter: Buster Smith and Other Altos B.B. (Before Bird)

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.44041


The foundation for the development of Charlie Parker is laid by earlier altos in the Southwestern tradition, including Alvin “Fats” Wall and Henry “Buster” Smith, who would become a musical mentor to Parker. Smith was a member of the Blue Devils who became a partner with Count Basie in an early iteration of the group that morphed into Basie’s big band, but he and Basie parted ways before the latter achieved national fame in another might-have-been in the history of Kansas City jazz.

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