Bob Stewart
b. 3 February 1945, Sioux Falls, Dakota, USA. Stewart played trumpet for eight years, then switched to tuba in his second year at the Philadelphia College of Performing Arts. He learned to play in dixieland bands (where the tuba occupies the role taken in later jazz by the string bass), including a residency at Your Father's Moustache. After graduating with a teaching degree in 1968 he relocated to New York, where he taught and led a junior high school band. He had been jamming with tuba-player Howard Johnson for years, now he joined his tuba ensemble Substructure and was also a founder member of Gravity. In 1971 he worked with the Collective Black Artists Ensemble and in the early '70s with a variety of artists, including Freddie Hubbard and Taj Mahal. He formed a trio with Arthur Blythe and cellist Abdul Wadud, showing that the tuba could operate at the forefront of post-free explorations of tradition, particularly gripping as he interpreted Monk's left-hand bass lines on the tribute record LIGHT BLUE. He worked with Gil Evans (recording the tuba solo on Hendrix's Voodoo Chile on LIVE AT ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL) and with Carla Bley. He became a founder member of Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy. Indeed, Stewart was there whenever a tuba was needed — as it increasingly was during the '80s period of consolidation, when arrangers looked to jazz history for inspiration. He has also played with the Globe Unity Orchestra and co-leads (with French-horn player John Clark) the Clark-Stewart Quartet. In 1987 he formed his own band, First Line, with guitarist Kelvyn Bell from Defunkt, touring in 1988 and 1991. The band play an amalgam of New Orleans, free jazz and fusion that Stewart calls ‘dixie funk’.

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