This week, Ira spoke with Arnold Jay Smith.
Professor and jazz journalist Arnold Jay Smith, as part of the yearlong celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Frank Sinatra, will offer “Sinatra in Hollywood,” a lecture that also features rare clips and insights on the artist on October 3, at Doc Rando Recital Hall, hosted by the Arnold Shaw Popular Music Research Center at the UNLV College of Fine Arts.
Brooklyn-born Smith has an MBA in Finance in addition to his more-than-abiding penchant for all things jazz. He was a pianist and bandleader in Jr. High School (now Middle School) and High School. Smith has written for Billboard, a columnist for Cash Box, on staff at Variety, and eventually became East Coast editor at Down Beat.
Smith has contributed to the New York Times, American Airlines’ “American Way” Magazine and Newsday, among other publications.
Upon returning from a secretly planned trip to Cuba in 1977 with Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Earl “Fatha” Hines and David Amram and with President Jimmy Carter’s blessings, he wrote for five publications about his adventure. It was his tapes of the Cuban Latin-jazz-rock group Irakere that launched the careers of Paquito d’Rivera, Arturo Sandoval and Chucho Valdes.
Smith has lectured at Michigan State University, Long Island University, Hofstra University and Borough of Manhattan Community College. He taught at New York University. His course, “Jazz Insights” ran for 26 years at the New School in NYC. He is currently an adjunct professor of Jazz History at New Jersey City University.
Smith’s vast archives are to be housed at the University of Nevada/Las Vegas (UNLV) where he lectures twice annually.