Tommy Stewart (trumpeter)
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|Thomas “Tommy” Stewart|
|Born||November 19, 1939|
|Genres||Jazz, Swing, Funk, R&B|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, Arranger, Producer|
|Years active||1956 to Present|
Tommy Stewart is an American trumpeter, arranger, producer, composer and pianist residing in Birmingham, Alabama. He is a member of several active performing groups, including the Magic City Jazz Orchestra, Cleveland Eaton and the Alabama All-Stars, the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame All-Stars, and Ray Reach and Friends. He was a 1988 inductee into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.
John T. "Fess" Whatley trained Stewart, Erskine Hawkins, Dud Bascomb, Paul Bascomb, and Sun Ra (previously known as Herman Blount). Whatley taught music at Industrial High in Birmingham, which at the time was one of the largest populated high schools in America, with more than 3,500 students walking its hallways. Alvin "Stumpy" Robinson, the band director at Washington Jr High School, was also influential in Stewart's development.
Tommy Stewart enrolled at Alabama State College without knowing how he was going to pay tuition. The problem solved itself when he joined the Bama State Collegians, a dance band formed in 1929 who at various times featured Erskine Hawkins, Avery Parrish, Joe Newman, Sam Taylor, Julian Dash, Benny Powell, and Vernall Fournier. Other musicians who attended Alabama State are Clarence Carter, Fred Wesley (James Brown), and Walter Orange (Commodores). The popular band made enough money to fund Stewart's way through four years of college.
He attended Alabama State University, where he directed the Bama State Collegians (formerly directed by trumpeter Erskine Hawkins). Later, he studied jazz arranging at the Eastman School of Music. Stewart also studied arranging under John Duncan, a classical composer and teacher at Alabama State University. Tommy pledged Omega Psi Phi at the Gamma Sigma Chapter located on the Alabama State University Campus.
He taught high school from 1961 to 1963 at Fayette High School in St. Clair County Alabama. In 1969 he moved to Atlanta, Georgia, and taught in Fayetteville, Ga; he also worked for Morris Brown College doing band arrangements. He taught jazz and did band arrangements at Morehouse College from 1974 to 1985. He also taught band classes at West End High School in Birmingham, Alabama from 1991-2001. He also taught “A Survey of Popular Music” at Georgia State University in 1979.
From 2005 to 2007, Tommy served as a faculty member of the educational program at the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, under Director of Student Jazz Programs, Ray Reach. In this position, he was also a member of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame All-Stars.
Produced, arranged, performed, or recorded with
In 1956 he played with Roy Hamilton. In 1963 Stewart also performed with Willie Hightower L.C. Cook and Junior Parker during summer vacations. He arranged music for Eula Cooper, The Mighty Hannibal, Sandy Gaye, and Langston-French Duo (Langston is an ex-Pip and Gladys Knight’s cousin). Most of these arranging assignments took place on Jessie Jones Tragar Records Label, located at 99-1/2 Hunter St. in Atlanta.
During the 1970s, he worked at the Gold Lounge accompanying the likes of Gladys Knight & the Pips and The Tams. In 1971 he went on the road with Johnnie Taylor's show, which also featured Jackie Moore King Floyd Z.Z. Hill and The Stylistics, who were hot with "You're a Big Girl Now." He was the chief arranger for a television show in 1972 called Nightlife South, which ran for 25 weeks. The following year he did the charts for The Burning of Atlanta LP by The Spirit of Atlanta on Buddah Records. That same year (1973) he connected with GRC/Aware Records and arranged tracks recorded by John Edwards (who later joined The Spinners) and Loletta Holloway, one of soul's most dynamic voices.
Stewart toured as musical director with Johnnie Taylor on his Disco Lady Tour in 1976, and also served as Ted Taylor's musical director. In 1973 Tommie also directed Johnny Taylor’s band while they performed on The Midnight Special Show featuring Wolfman Jack. Chuck Berry was the official MC for that show.
In the late 1970s Stewart teamed with Marlon McNichols, a producer from Detroit, MI, to record some classic Disco music with groups such as Final Approach, Cream De CoCo, Tamiko Jones, Moses Davis, and of course to collaborate on the Tommy Stewart album with the classic hit "Bump & Hustle Music". Tommy and Marlin McNichols would fly into Detroit and use the same horn and string players that played on all those great sounding Motown Records on their Atlanta Recordings, bringing together southern funk blended with soft and lush strings and horns.
Stewart also arranged for Luther Ingram in 1977 and Johnny Baylor (Ingram s manager and the owner of KoKo Records).
Stewart's name pops up several times in the production and songwriting credits on Martha High's solo album on Salsoul Records. He produced the album and co-wrote every song featured, except for a remake of the Emotions' "Don't Ask My Neighbor," with his two colleagues, Harold Daniels and Julian Chatman.
The Martha High album was done on spec. High toured with James Brown as a backing vocalist and originally sang with the Four Jewels (who later became the Jewels), but stayed with Brown after the other members left. Brown was going to do the album, but decided to let Stewart do it. Joe Cayre of Salsoul Records wanted a James Brown sound—Stewart obliged by knocking the LP out in one day. He met High the day of the session. The record doesn't have the typical stringy Salsoul sound because it was recorded in Atlanta, not Philadelphia. Cayre released the album, undoctored, from the tape Stewart submitted. It was around this time that he produced Ripple a self-contained band who made a little noise with "The Beat Goes On," and Southside Coalition, made up of some of Stewart's former students from Archer High in Atlanta.
He worked with Major Lance on two albums, toured with the Tams in 1983, and did arrangements for Serena Johnson's The Lack of Communication album. In 1990, he co-founded the African American philharmonic symphony orchestra in Atlanta under co-founder/conductor John Peek. He moved from Atlanta to Birmingham in 1992, where he lived with his wife, Francina (a substitute teacher), and daughter Franita.
- The Spirit Of Atlanta - The Burning Of Atlanta (Buddah LP 1973)
- Whole Darn Family - Has Arrived (Soul International LP 1976)
- Tommy Stewart - Same (Abraxas LP 1976)
- Ripple – Sons of the Gods (Salsoul LP 1977)
- Luther Ingram – (KoKo LP1977)
- Stevo - Musica Negra (Oliva Cantu LP 1978)
- Opus 7 – Opus 7 (MCA LP 1978)
- Tommy Stewart and His Orchestra (Circle Records LP 1980)
- Ojeda Penn – Happiness (IFE LP 1980)
- Sil Austin + Tommy Stewart and His Orchestra (Circle Records LP 1981)
- Hambone - Big Fat Juicy Fun (Salsoul LP 1981)
- Solar Source - Now's The Time (AVI LP 1981)
- Major Lance – I Wanna Go Home (Columbia LP 1981)
- Tommy Stewart - Disco Love Affair (Cultures Of Soul LP 2012)
- Tommy Stewart - Unreleased EP (Jazzman EP 2009)
- Tommy Stewart - Bump & Hustle Music (unreleased 11 minute version bootleg) (G.B. Music 12" 2004)
- Stevo - Pay The Price / Party Night (G-K Productions 12")
- Stevo - Pay The Price / Party Night (T.K. Disco 12")
- Gregory Jolly - I Want To Clap My Hands For The Power / What' Em Doing Is My Business (G-K Productions 12")
- Masheen - Time / Get Up & Get Down (G-K Productions 12")
- Papa Gotta Live – Disco Harp / Music Man (G-K Productions 12")
- Sil Austin – Disco Music / Disco Lady (Jerri 7”)
- Moses - Love to live / Something about you (Pure Silk 12" 1978)
- Mad Dog Fire Department - Cosmic Funk (T.K. Disco 12" 1979)
- Sherman Hunter - Dancing Down The Avenue (T.K. Disco 12" 1979)
- Sherman Hunter - Dance To Freedom (Dealers Choice 12" 1981)
- Cream de Coco - Wiggle wiggle wiggle / Disco strut (Free Spirit 12" 1976)
- Final Approach - We Like To Boogie / Que Passa (Goldplate 12" 1976)
- Tamiko Jones - Let It Flow (T.K. Disco 12" 1976)
- Martha High - He's My Ding Dong Man / Wallflower (Salsoul 12" 1979)
- Martha High - Showdown / He's My Ding Dong Man (Salsoul 12" 1979)
- Reanna Coleman – You're In My Pocket (Konduko 12" 1984)
- Terry and Deep South - Trying To Get By (Bama 7" 1976)
- Clinton Harmon - I Want To Get Close To You (Note Records 7" 1976)
- Clinton Harmon - Can't Help The Way I Feel About You (Barnstorm Records 7")
- Stev-O - Easter Parade / Disco Bunny (G.K. Disco Series 7")
- Stevo - Pay The Price / Party Night (Shield 7")
- Lyn Westbrook – African Strut Part1 / African Strut Part2 (Esprit 7”)
- Funny Bone - Ride On Bones / Bring It Home (Camp-Bell 7")
- Eula Cooper – I Can’t Help If I Love You / Since I Fell For You (Tragar 7” 1969)
- Sandy Gaye – Watch the Dog That Bring the Bone / Talk Is Cheap (Tragar 7” 1969)
- Sandy Gaye – He's Good For Me / Talk Is Cheap (Moonshot 7” 1969)
- Richard Cook – Love is So Mean / Somebody’s Got to Help Me (Tragar 7” 1969)
- Langston and French – Let’s Get Funky / Tumbling Down (Tragar 7” 1969)
- Nathan Wilkes – Now that I Am Wise / Strange Feeling (Tragar 7” 1969)
- Richard Marks – Home For the Holidays / Mr. Santa Claus (Tuska 7” 1969)
- Buddy Cantrell – Why Did You Leave Me? / You Ain’t No Good (Tuska 7” 1969)
- Richard Marks – I’m the Man For You / Cracker Jack (Tuska 7” 1969)
- Barbara Hall – Broken Hearted / Big Man (Tuska 7” 1969)
- Richard Marks – Did You Ever Lose Something / Never Satisfied (Tuska 7” 1969)
- Loleatta Holloway – Cry To Me (Aware 7” 1974)
- Loleatta Holloway – H-E-L-P Me, My Lord (Aware 7” 1974)
- Loleatta Holloway – I Know Where You’re Coming From / Show Must Go On (Aware 7” 1974)
- Loleatta Holloway – Casanova (Aware 7” 1974)
- Loleatta Holloway - Casanova / Only A Fool (Aware 7" 1975)
- Calvin Arnold - Friendly Neighborhood Freak (IX Chains 7" 1975)
- 3rd World Band - Disco Hop / Let's Boogie At The Disco (Abraxas 7" 1975)
- Sil Austin - Disco lady / Disco music (Jerri 7" 1976)
- South Side Coalition - Get Down Get Down / The Power-Play (Brown Dog 7" 1976)
- Ojeda Penn - Brotherson (IFE 7" 1981)
- Miss Louistine – Tired of Being Alone / I Don’t Want to Love Nobody But You (NWE 7” 1984)
- Louistine – Self Serve Woman / Don't Take Me On (Plexus 7” 1984)
- Harold Daniels – Don’t Snatch It Back / Instrumental (Southern Tracks / 1986)
This entire article was written during a personal interview with Tommy Stewart on January 5 and 6, 2008.