Cliff Smalls

Arnold Clifton " Cliff" Smalls ( born March 3, 1918 in Charleston (South Carolina), † 2008) was an American jazz bandleader, trombonist, pianist, arranger and composer.

Smalls grew up in Charleston and learned piano and organ from his father, who played the instruments in the church of their Baptist church. Even in high school he joined the Carolina Cotton Pickers as a pianist and toured with them. He studied piano, music theory and composition at the Kansas City Conservatory and was from 1942 to 1946 replacement pianist and trombonist with Earl Hines. He also played and recorded with the Jimmy Lunceford Orchestra in Detroit, with Billy Eckstine, Louis Jordan, Earl Bostic (eg on the hit Flamingo 1950), Erskine Hawkins, Lucky Millinder, Bennie Green ( Bennie Green with Art Farmer 1956) and Cab Calloway.

He was musical director and arranger for Eartha Kitt, Ella Fitzgerald (eg Newport Jazz Festival at Carnegie Hall ), Sy Oliver ( with whom he recorded in 1973 and whom he accompanied ten years as a pianist at the Rainbow Room in New York), Sammy Davis Junior, Smokey Robinson, Clyde McPhatter and worked with Brook Benton, Dinah Washington, and Gerald Wilson.

In 1979, he took a solo album The Man I Love to. In the film The Cotton Club by Francis Ford Coppola, he played in a cameo a piano player.

Most recently, he led a septet in Brooklyn. He also worked as a teacher for young jazz musicians.