Legendary pianist Walt Smith, a Colorado native and long-time resident of Western Colorado, suffered a heart attack last Thursday, July 5. Only days before the heart attack, it was announced numerous musicians from around the valley were organizing a tribute concert in honor of Smith's 91st birthday.

Smith has been sharing his Jazz with the Western Slope since 1956. Many, including Gault, consider him to be "the" musical icon of the valley. Smith collaborated with Leon Uris to create and produce a Broadway musical. Smith has also played the Art and Jazz Festival for over 20 years.

Colorado band leader Clark Gault recently made the announcement of an August 18 concert at the Art Center in Grand Junction. Gault's group, the Swing City Express, is made up of two musical units: the 16-piece big band, and an 8-piece Jazz group. For the August 18 concert, the 8-piece Jazz ensemble will perform.

Smith was released from the hospital on Tuesday (July 10) and is expected to perform at his tribute concert. In addition to Walt Smith, Grand Junction's Mike Gazdak will be on hand to play piano.

"A Truly Monumental Musical Event - Tribute to Walt Smith" is coming up August 18, 2018, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Art Center at 7th and Orchard in Grand Junction. Tickets are $15 each or two for $25. Tickets are available at Hart Music, Roper Music, Hilltop Commons, Soliste Senior Center, the Grand Junction Symphony Office, and at the Art Center. A portion of the event's proceeds will benefit the Art Center.

I wish you a fast recovery, Walt. I've heard you perform hundreds of times, and had the pleasure of performing with you on three occasions. You are a true genius. Happy 91st birthday. I'm really looking forward to your tribute concert. It's impossible to imagine anyone who deserves it more.

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