I first encountered the unique stylings of bassist Slam Stewart on the excellent Dizzy Gillespie album Groovin’ High, which captures some of the earliest recordings of bebop ever heard. Stewart’s solo, which combined his arco (bow) bass playing and singing, grabbed my attention right away. He typically sung his vocals an octave above his bass part, to great effect.
Stewart was born in my home state of New Jersey — Englewood to be precise — 97 years ago this Wednesday, and died at the age of 73 in Binghamton, New York. He was never the most celebrated of bassists, although he did enjoy commercial success as one half — along with Slim Gaillard — of the Slim and Slam duo. The pair notched their biggest hit in 1938 with Gaillard’s humorous “Flat Foot Floogie (with a Floy Floy).”
Today’s song is “All the Things You Are,” from the aforementioned Groovin’ High album but found on countless others. It was recorded on February 28, 1945 and features Stewart on bass, Gillespie on trumpet, Charlie Parker on alto sax, Clyde Hart on piano, Remo Palmieri on guitar, and Cozy Cole on drums.
Enjoy “All the Things You Are” featuring the bass and vocals of Slam Stewart!
- Sunday Jazz: Cannonball Adderley, “Jive Samba” 1963 (grayflannelsuit.net)
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