A jazz pianist noted for his versatility and elegance, Derek Smith was born August 17, 1931, in London, England. After taking up the piano in early childhood, he began his professional career at the age of just 14, and by the early '50s was a staple on the U.K. jazz scene, regularly performing with the likes of Kenny Graham, John Dankworth, and Kenny Baker. In the mid-'50s, Smith relocated to New York City, where he became a session musician in much demand by studio orchestras and other recording units; he also continued pursuing his jazz aspirations in the company of Benny Goodman and Connie Kay. Smith continued moving back and forth from studio work to live jazz dates for years to come, and at the end of the 1960s added to his workload piano duties in Doc Severinsen's Tonight Show Orchestra. In the 1970s, he reunited frequently with Goodman, and in 1978 finally led his own recording date, Love for Sale. The Man I Love followed later that same year, and in the decades to come, Smith's presence on the jazz landscape increased considerably; in addition to solo performances, he also regularly played in a trio with Milt Hinton and Bobby Rosengarden.