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.

Quoted from
'After working as a lawyer, he moved to London in the late 1950s and played in clubs with musicians such as Dizzy Reece. He played and recorded with Joe Harriott's quintet (which included Shake Keane, Coleridge Goode, and Phil Seamen) from 1960 to 1964; during this period he also recorded with Keane (1961) and Paul Gonsalves (1963) as well as under his own name (1962). He stayed with Harriott in 1965-7 as a member of the free-jazz group Indo-jazz Fusions (led by Harriott and the violinist John Mayer); his playing may be heard to advantage on Abstract Doodle from the group's Personal Portrait (1967, Columbia SCX6249). During the 1970s Smythe played in Kenny Wheeler's groups and worked (sometimes as a leader) with Dave Holland, John McLaughlin, and others.'


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.