Slam Stewart

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Slam Stewart
Slam Stewart.jpg
Slam Stewart, ca. 1946
Background information
Birth name Leroy Elliott Stewart
Born (1914-09-21)September 21, 1914
Origin Englewood, New Jersey, U.S.
Died December 10, 1987(1987-12-10) (aged 73)
Genres Jazz
Instruments Double bass

Leroy Eliot "Slam" Stewart (September 21, 1914 – December 10, 1987) was an African American jazz bass player whose trademark style was his ability to bow the bass (arco) and simultaneously hum or sing an octave higher. He was originally a violin player before switching to bass at the age of 20.

Biography[edit]

Stewart was born in Englewood, New Jersey on September 21, 1914, and began playing string bass while attending Dwight Morrow High School.[1] While attending the Boston Conservatory, he heard Ray Perry singing along with his violin. This gave him the inspiration to follow suit with his bass. In 1937 Stewart teamed with Slim Gaillard to form the novelty jazz act Slim and Slam. The duo's biggest hit was "Flat Foot Floogie (with a Floy Floy)" in 1938 (see 1938 in music).

Stewart found regular session work throughout the 1940s with Lester Young, Fats Waller, Coleman Hawkins, Erroll Garner, Art Tatum, Johnny Guarnieri, Red Norvo, Don Byas, the Benny Goodman Sextet, and Beryl Booker, among others. One of the most famous sessions he played on took place in 1945, when Stewart played with Dizzy Gillespie's group (which featured Charlie Parker). Out of those sessions came some of the classics of bebop such as "Groovin' High" and "Dizzy Atmosphere."

Throughout the rest of his career, Stewart worked regularly and employed his unique and enjoyable bass-playing style. He taught at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York, and at Yale University. He died on December 9, 1987 in Binghamton.

Discography[edit]

This sample highlights Slam Stewart's style of bowing and simultaneously singing/humming one octave higher. Stewart's solo picks up at the end of a Charlie Parker saxophone solo, and leads into a trumpet solo by Dizzy Gillespie.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

Studio albums[edit]

  • Slam Stewart (1971)
  • Slamboree (1972)
  • Fish Scales (1975)
  • Two Big Mice (1977)
  • Dialogue (1978)
  • Shut Yo' Mouth! (1981) - with Major Holley
  • The Cats Are Swingin' (1987)
  • Slam Bam (2000)

Compilations[edit]

  • Bowin' Singin' Slam (1945)
  • Memorial Album 1914-1987 (1978)
  • 1945-1946 (1997)
  • Jumpin' at the Deuces

Filmography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Stewart, Slam (Leroy Elliot), Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians. Accessed February 4, 2013. "Leroy Elliot Slam Stewart was born on September 21st, 1914 in Englewood, New Jersey. Stewart started his musical journey at age six playing the violin. Claiming he didn't care for the timbre of the violin, Stewart switched to the string bass while attending Dwight Morrow High School."

External links[edit]