James Rudolph Smith was born on Christmas Day 1930 in South Fort Smith, Arkansas. He began painting after he was encouraged by a visiting artist who gave him a set of paints, and he started playing the trumpet at age 8 inspired by a travelling "music man."
At age 12 he moved to California where his parents worked in the shipyards. At night Jim was surrounded by the Big Band music that was broadcast over the shipyards at night to keep up the workers' morale. He studied with John Clyman in Los Angeles, and played with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1949; he also played in a rehearsal orchestra with composer Peter Jona Korn. He played at the Hollywood Bowl and dance jobs with his friends Bryce Slagle, Chet Baker and Gil Bernal.
Jim was the Principal Trumpet of the Portland Symphony from 1950-1964. During this same time he was co-owner of The Way Out jazz club, collaborated with Ernie Hood on the first liturgical jazz service at Westminster Church in Portland, performed as a soloist for shows and ballets, and taught a legion of brass players. He was a co-founder of the Portland Symphonic Brass Ensemble with John Trudeau. There were legendary "happenings" with Oregon artists Louis Bunce, Manuel Izquierdo, Lee Kelly, and Milton Wilson. He helped present the first live music performances at the Portland Art Museum, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, and the Peter Britt Festival.
James was the solo trumpet with the Robert Shaw Chorale 1964-1967, and featured soloist on the Shaw recording of Handel's Messiah. He also toured South America with the Shaw Chorale in 1964, where he expanded his fascination with Latin jazz. During these years he also recorded as a sideman at Capitol Records.
He moved to Cannon Beach in 1972, conducting the North Coast Chamber Orchestra from 1972-1978, including the first performances in the Coaster Theater. He recorded the fanfare for the Pioneer Courthouse Square Weather Machine created by Dick Ponzi and Ray Grimm.
He was a candidate for Oregon Governor in 1978, as well as member #194 of the Jim Smith Society. He was a member of the Musician's Union Local 99 Portland, Local 47 Los Angeles, and Local 802 New York. His artworks were exhibited in Oregon Artist shows as well as in Cannon Beach.
With first wife Marjorie he had sons Christopher, James, and Michael, blending with stepchildren Susan, Sherry, and George. With his second wife Antoinette he had daughter Michelle, blending with stepdaughters Pamela and Cathy.
He is survived by his third wife Laurel Hood, with whom he planted a vineyard in Yamhill County. They shared 39 years together.
His life was a kaleidoscopic passion of music, art, good food, laughter, but most of all - love.
There will be an extended celebration of his life the fourth weekend in June at the vineyard.