Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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STEWART, Slam

(b Leroy Stewart, 21 September 1914, Englewood NJ; d 11 December 1987, Binghamton NY) Bassist, vocalist. He met Slim Gaillard in Harlem in 1937; they teamed as Slim and Slam, hits mostly written by Gaillard: 'Flat Foot Floogie', 'Tutti Fruti', 'Jump Session', 'Laughing In Rhythm', 'Buck Dance Rhythm' '38-9. He was seen in film Stormy Weather '43 with Fats Waller; toured and recorded with Art Tatum, Benny Goodman '43-5; formed his own trio with Billy Taylor, then Beryl Booker on piano (b 7 June 1922, Philadelphia PA, d 30 September 1978, Berkeley CA: she recorded with Don Byas, toured Europe with Billi Holiday, had several record dates of her own, all produced by Leonard Feather, but remained obscure), Johnny Collins on guitar (later with Nat Cole).

Stewart practised one of the most distinctive and delightful gimmicks in jazz, bowing a bass solo and humming in unison an octave above. One of his best-known recording sessions was late '43 with a Lester Young quartet including Johnny Guarnieri and Sid Catlett. He worked in '50s with Tatum, Booker; toured late '50s--60s with 'Chee-Chee girl' vocalist Rose Murphy. He toured with Goodman '70s, with his own quartet; taught at NY State U at Binghampton; played Le Rêve Symphonique pour Slam by Jack Martin with the Indianapolis S.O. '70; gigged in London with Illinois Jacquet c.1982, etc. Own LPs on Savoy, UA; Shut Yo' Mouth '81 on PM with Major Holley has two fine bassists humming and scatting, with Oliver Jackson on drums (Dick Hyman on one track); Dialogue with guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli (b 9 January 1926, Patterson NJ) is on Stash.