Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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STUART, Rory

(b 9 January 1956, Brooklyn, NY) Guitarist, composer, leader. He began on drums, switched to guitar and began buying jazz records at about 13, thanks to a school outing to the Village Vanguard (a matinee with Roland Kirk) and Jaki Byard teaching at the school. He studied classical guitar for two and a half years, then heard Wes Montgomery and George Benson; spent seven years living in Colorado except for a tour with Jack McDuff and a season in Paris, and returned to NYC in 1981, mostly self-taught, and formed a quartet. His first album Nightwork '83 on Cadence was made live at Seventh Avenue South with pianist Armen Donelian, Calvin Hill on bass, Keith Copeland on drums; the four Stuart tunes made an intimate music full of energy and intelligence. Second album Hurricane '86 on Sunnyside (Anthony Cox replacing Hill) had six originals plus one tune each by Thelonious Monk and Donelian, two more tracks on CD. He also played with baritone saxist Glenn Wilson (b 1954, Youngstown OH) on Wilson's small-group sets Lee's Keys, Please on Timeless (actually a co-op date by 'The Cadence All-Stars') and Blue Porpoise Avenue, plus a co-led duo Bittersweet (combining '90 and '92 sessions on CD), the last two on Sunnyside.

Armen Donelian (b 1 December 1950, Queens, NY) worked with Sonny Rollins, Ted Curson, singer Anne Marie Moss, others; he lived next door to Charles Mingus, sent tapes of Mingus's work-in-progress to Joni Mitchell, helping to inspire her Mingus LP; his albums on Sunnyside began with A Reverie '84 (solo), Secrets '88, The Wayfarer '90; also Trio '87 on Odin. Donelian went on the teaching staff at the New School '88 and Stuart subbed for Copeland there; Stuart succeeded Copeland full time at the New School '92. Donelian's further albums included Quartet Language, recorded live in 1992 at Visiones with Hill on bass, Jeff Williams on drums, and Thomas Chapin on reeds, released 2003 on Playscape: one of the few live albums featuring Chapin (b 9 March 1957, d 3 February 1998 of leukemia). Also on Sunnyside were Donelian's All Or Nothing At All (duo with Marc Mommas on tenor sax), and three volumes of Grand Ideas, original solo piano music: Wave 2000, Mystic Heights 2001, and Full Moon Music 2005.

Revelation by the Ivo Perelman Trio featuring Rory Stuart '97 came out on CIMP. Stuart's So Rise Up came out on SmartCatMusic 2007, with Mark Shim, saxophone; Chris Tordini, bass; Art Hoenig, drums. Stuart had also worked with Charlie Rouse, Charles Earland, Errol Parker, Bill Doggett, and Steve Coleman's group with Cassandra and Geri Allen. In occasional 'Jazz Presents' concerts in connection with the New School, Stuart has hosted groups of alumni and current students; at the end of March 2015 a two-part show featured new music played by an octet, and Stuart's new trio, with Rajna Swaminathan on mrudangam (a South Indian drum) and Francesco Geminiani on tenor sax.