William Overton Smith (Bill), composer, clarinet; b. Sacramento, California, 1926. Clarinet at 10: theory, harmony at 16. To NYC; studied at Juilliard; later for several years with Darius Milhaud at Mills College in Oakland, California. While at Mills, met fellow-student Dave Brubeck ans formed octet with him. M.A. in music 1952; became teacher at colleges while continuing to play and write all kinds of music including jazz. Won Prix de Rome, later settled in Rome working on Guggenheim grant.
While in Italy, Smith represented the U.S. at the International Congress of Electronic Music in Venice, giving premiere of work for jazz combo and prerecorded tape. He became increasingly interested in electronic music. With pianist John Eaton he formed the American Jazz Ensemble, which toured U.S. annually playing community concerts. The group introduced the Synket, a novel machine for production and transformation of sounds.
Smith is a man of prodigious talent both as composer and clarinetist. His early works include CONCERTO FOR CLARINET AND COMBO recorded with Shelley Manne, DIVERTIMENTO, with Red Norvo, both on Contemporary. He appeared with Brubeck on THE RIDDLE (Columbia), DAVE BRUBECK OCTET, NEAR MYTH, BRUBECK A LA MODE (Fantasy)