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Renowned jazz pianist, husband, father and grandfather. Originally from England, he began his career at the age of 14 on VE Day. In 1957 he immigrated to the United States, building a career that spanned seven decades. His immense talent earned the respect and admiration of everyone who knew him. Playing with every big name in show business, and performing with every major player on the jazz scene, he will be remembered as one of the jazz greats.

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Published in New York Times on Aug. 21, 2016.
Memories & Condolences
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12 entries
August 15, 2019
Interesting in that, on 1st anniversary of Derek's death, I was mentioning him to a group of friends. He performed for our first Pensacola symphony Ball and appeared with bassist Milt Hinton and drummer Bobby Rosengarden twice for Pensacola Jazzfest. I would also see him frequently at Dick Gibson and Arbors Records jazz parties.

I counted Derek as a dear friend.
F.Norman Vickers
August 27, 2016
derek was an amazing musician and person....his playing reflected his personality and skill ..just full of gusto and verve..we will all miss him..but will never forget him
tone kwas
August 26, 2016
I worked with Derek a bit in the '90s. He was a joy to play music with and a very nice guy. RIP
Frank Gravis
August 25, 2016
I am writing an obituary on Derek for Jersey Jazz Magazine. I know he is survived by his wife, Shirley. If anyone knows the names and locations of his children and how many grandchildren he had, can you email me at Thank you.
August 24, 2016
Derek was fine gentleman as well as superb jazz pianist. He appeared for Pensacola JazzFest twice in trio format with bassist Milt Hinton and drummer Bobby Rosengarden.
He was also guest pianist for first Pensacola Symphony Ball in late 1980s.
Sympathy to the family. He made the world a better place.

Norman Vickers
Norman Vickers
August 23, 2016
May he rest in peace. such a wonderful musician
Dom Minasi
August 23, 2016
We attended a "Salute to Derek Smith" at a Highlights in Jazz concert a few years back. His playing was superb.
Steven Goldberg
August 23, 2016
I was lucky enough to see Derek perform in a small club in NJ several times. He was the consummate professional and boy could he swing. He will be missed.
Ralph A. Miriello
August 22, 2016
Leda and I both felt that Derek was one of the finest people we have ever known . Great Musician. but a greater MAN. He will be missed by us and, of course many more
Gerry goldsmith
August 22, 2016
Derek's gifts at the keyboard brought infinite joy to my family -- performing a special concert for my mother's 70th birthday -- and leading a 5-member Swing troupe at my wedding, which helped to make the night all the more memorable. Never before, and perhaps never again, has my husband danced the entire night away with me! Derek's immense talent, dry wit and wry charm will be greatly missed.
Leslie Carroll
August 22, 2016
I had the keen pleasure of watching Derek Smith perform many times. Leaving aside his prodigious technique, his timing, his timbre and his temperament, he was distinguished by one thing, the man could swing.
Ezra Millstein
August 21, 2016
Glad I had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Smith through his daughter. He was a wonderful man and very loved by his family. Hoping beautiful memories comfort his family. May he rest in peace.
Ellen Feld
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