Slam Stewart Biography

American jazz bassist.

Born 21 September 1914 in Englewood, New Jersey, USA.

Died: 10 December 1987 in Binghamton, New York, USA (aged 73).

The trademark of his 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.

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.

Stewart found regular session work throughout the 1940s with Lester Young, Fats Waller, Coleman Hawkins, 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.

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