Hal Smith took up the drums in 1963, and became a full-time professional musician in 1978. He has played with many of the best Traditional Jazz and Swing bands including the Dukes of Dixieland, Jim Cullum’s Jazz Band, Butch Thompson Trio, Grand Dominion Jazz Band, Bob Schulz’s Frisco Jazz Band, Climax Jazz Band, Yerba Buena Stompers, the Fat Babies and many others. Hal has also played Western Swing, Rockabilly and Blues music with a variety of groups across the U.S.
Currently he lives in Searcy, Arkansas and travels to engagements with bands led by Kris Tokarski, Tim Laughlin and Banu Gibson. He leads the On The Levee Band (Kid Ory tribute), Pretty Wild (Wild Bill Davison tribute), Swing Central (swing quintet) and co-leads the Rock Island Roustabouts with pianist Jeff Barnhart.
Hal was influenced by hearing Ben Pollack, Nick Fatool, Wayne Jones and Fred Higuera in live performance. He has also studied the recordings of drummers Sid Catlett, Dave Tough, Zutty Singleton, Jo Jones, Minor Hall, George Wettling, Morey Feld, Gene Krupa, Harry Dial, Johnny Wells, Vic Berton, Ray Bauduc and more.
When Hal Smith plays, the spirits of George Wettling, Zutty Singleton and Dave Tough smile. Whether it’s small group swing, San Francisco Jazz, 1920s classics or freewheeling Eddie Condon jazz, his playing lifts up the music with taste, class and subtle ideas.
— Scott Yanow, Jazz Historian and Journalist. http://www.scottyanow.com