Musician & Celebrated Jazz Pianist
Patrick Mungo Smythe was born in Edinburgh in May of 1923. He was educated at Winchester College and Oxford - the war years cutting short his Law studies. During the war he was a night-fighter pilot with the Royal Air Force, serving for five years.
After the war years, he went back to studying Law - this time at Edinburgh University where he also became recognised as a talented pianist. His diffident exterior concealed an adventurous spirit - as well as a thorough knowledge of the classical and jazz piano repertiore and although he spent several years in his father's law firm, he eventually succumbed to the whisperings of his musical muse, leaving Edinburgh for London in the late 1950s in search of a professional career in music.
In a richly diverse career he worked with many great names in jazz, including Stan Getz, Paul Gonsalves, Ben Webster, Zoot Sims and Bob Brookmeyer. He was a founder member of the legendary experimental group, the Joe Harriott Quintet and the unique Indo-Jazz Fusions.
He was an outstanding success with the Joe Harriott Quintet which achieved widespread recognition for its experiments with "musical structure and ensemble sonority". His graceful, lyrical phrases made a perfect complement to Harriott's "more extrovert" approaches and also to the extraordinarily talented flügelhorn of Shake Keane. The group stayed together for several years and recorded/performed frequently. A Web-search for "Pat Smythe" will produce many of the recordings with which he was associated.
Over the years, he also became associated with a number of singers - as an accompanist - bringing with him a subtle repertoire of lesser-known songs by composers such as Alec Wilder and Cole Porter - songs which he presented with a delicate yet firm touch, so typical of his understated talent. In fact, in partnership with Sandra King, he visited America and gained a far greater recognition there than, perhaps, in Britain where - according to some - his special qualities were too often taken for granted.
After a long illness, he died in London in 1983.
THE PAT SMYTHE MEMORIAL TRUST
The Pat Smythe Trust, established in 1985, is a registered charity to provide financial awards to young jazz musicians of outstanding talent. The Trust was founded to commemorate the life and music of pianist (composer/arranger) Pat Smythe, who died in 1983. It is funded entirely from benefit concerts and has given awards to such outstanding young musicians as Steve Melling (1986), Julian Arguelles (1987), Jason Rebello (1988) and Nigel Hitchcock (1989). It has provided financial support for vocalist Anita Wardell, and the young Scottish pianist, Steve Hamilton.