Will Smith


was introduced at an early age to New Orleans jazz by his older sister, long time Jazz Fest staff member, Dodie Smith-Simmons and brother in law, trumpeter, John “Kid” Simmons who would take him nightly to the world famous preservation hall, where Dodie was also employed. Inspired by the likes of Percy Humphery, Ernie Cagnoletti, Kid Thomas Valentine, DeDe Pierce, and others, he developed a love for the trumpet. In 1975, William joined the Fairview Baptist Church Brass Band, founded by legendary jazzman and author, Danny Barker. This band made yearly appearances and the Jazz and Heritage Festival. Later, he organized his own band, the Jass Cats. William has played and toured with the following brass bands “Doc” Pauline, Dejan’s Olympia, Chosen Few, Treme, Tornado, and the Pinstripe. As a member of the Lil Rascals Brass Band, William has worked hard to maintain a connection to the roots of brass band music.



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