Slam Stewart

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Slam Stewart
Slam Stewart, c. 1946
Slam Stewart, c. 1946
Background information
Birth nameLeroy Elliott Stewart
Born(1914-09-21)September 21, 1914
Englewood, New Jersey, U.S.
DiedDecember 10, 1987(1987-12-10) (aged 73)
Binghamton, New York. U.S.
Instrument(s)Double bass

Leroy Eliot "Slam" Stewart (September 21, 1914 – December 10, 1987)[1] was an American jazz double bass player, whose trademark style was his ability to bow the bass (arco) and simultaneously hum or sing an octave higher. He was a violinist before switching to bass at the age of 20.


Slam Stewart at Keystone Korner, San Francisco, California, April 28, 1981

Stewart was born in Englewood, New Jersey, United States[2] and began playing string bass while attending Dwight Morrow High School.[3] While attending the Boston Conservatory, he heard Ray Perry singing along with his violin.[1] This gave him the inspiration to follow suit with his bass.[1] In 1937, Stewart teamed with Slim Gaillard to form the novelty jazz act Slim and Slam.[1] The duo's biggest hit was "Flat Foot Floogie (with a Floy Floy)" in 1938.[1]

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, Benny Goodman, and Beryl Booker.[1] 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".

He taught at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York, and at Yale University. He died of congestive heart failure on December 10, 1987, in Binghamton, aged 73.[4]


Studio albums[edit]

  • Slam Stewart (1946)
  • Slam Bam (1971)
  • Slamboree (1972)
  • Fish Scales (1975)
  • Two Big Mice (1977)
  • Dialogue (1978)
  • Shut Yo' Mouth! (1981) with Major Holley
  • The Cats Are Swingin' (1987)

As sideman[edit]

  • Slipped Disc, 1945–46 (1990, Benny Goodman Sextet)
  • Art Tatum Live 1951–1953 Volume 6 (2004)
  • Big Joe Turner, Texas Style (Black and Blue, 1971)



  1. ^ a b c d e f Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Who's Who of Jazz (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. pp. 376/7. ISBN 0-85112-580-8.
  2. ^ Palmer, Robert. "Slam Stewart, 73, a Jazz Bassist Known for Singing With His Solos", The New York Times, December 1, 1987. Accessed November 25, 2017. "Mr. Stewart, whose real name was Leroy, was born in Englewood, N.J. on Sept. 21, 1914."
  3. ^ Stewart, Slam (Leroy Elliot) Archived 2012-08-31 at the Wayback Machine, 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."
  4. ^ "Billboard". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 26 December 1987. p. 93. Retrieved August 2, 2021 – via Google Books.

External links[edit]