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Louis Stewart

From: Dublin

Active: 1970s onwards

Style: jazz guitarist


Poster for a gig at the Foxrock Folk Club, 20 December 1970


Bio:

From the liner notes of his debut albun:
"Louis Stewart was born in Waterford in 1944 and brought up in Dublin, a city with a lively, if limited, jazz scene. A record of Barney Kessel first aroused his interest in jazz; he took up the guitar and, with single-minded determination, taught himself to play so effectively that he was invited to join a band for a visit to America in 1961. Auditioning for this job, he met Jim Doherty, an outstanding pianist in his own right and formed the basis of an enduring personal and musical friendship. After three years of showband work, he joined the Noel Kelehan Trio, his first opportunity to play jazz regularly. Kelehan, another outstanding pianist and arranger, also helped to lay the foundations of his future development.

Regular jazz work followed, notably at the Fox Inn, a pub run by American saxophonist Jim Riley in the countryside north of Dublin. Despite the unlikeliness of the setting there was a considerable array of visiting talent; altoist Lee Konitz, pianist Keith Jarrett, singers Sheila Jordan, Annie Ross and Jon Hendricks among others. Gerry Mulligan, an occasional visitor, played with Louis in the mid-sixties and joined the growing ranks of musicians who recognised the phenomenal abilities of the young Dublin guitarist.

Louis' career received a tremendous boost when he appeared at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in 1968 with the Jim Doherty Quartet. The group was voted second in the band category and Louis received the Press Award as the Outstanding European Soloist of the Festival. Later that year he was voted third in the guitar section of the Jazz Forum Readers' Poll.

Returning to Montreaux the following year with pianist Ian Henry and drummer and bassist on this record: John Wadham and Martin Walshe, he shared the Festival's top award, the Grand Prix de la Radio Suisse Romande, and was awarded a scholarship to the Berklee School of Music. That same year he was placed second in the guitar section of the Melody Maker Poll.

By now he was playing regularly in a quarter led by the late Tuddy Hayes. The pianoless format and the tenor saxophonist's penchant for fast tempos made demands on the guitarist that broadened his technique still further so that Hayes, himself among the most discriminating and adventurous of musicians, could describe him as 'a creative soloist with a sound harmonic knowledge and good time'.

Benny Goodman heard his playing in this period and invited him to join his big band for three tours throughout Europe. In 1971 Louis returned to Dublin where the scene benefitted enormously by his presence. He appeared frequently on Irish television and wrote music for several TV programmes including the award-winning 'A Week in the Life of Martin Cluxton'.

A London booking as part of a Jazz Guitar Festival in mid-1975 led to Louis being invited to join Ronnie Scott's new quartet and brought his work to the attention of a wider jazz public both at the Scott Club and on tours in Europe. Sunday Times' Jazz Critic, Derek Jewell heard him at the Club in August and, in a reaction typical of many musicians and critics wrote 'Louis Stewart played quite ravishingly on guitar with the technical mastery of Wes Montgomery and attractive fluency. With luck, he really could become the best jazz guitarist in the world'.

Inevitably, he has made records; in a big band setting with the Tubby Hayes Orchestra, with Clark Terry at Montreaux in 1968 and with Benny Goodman. In smaller groups he has recorded with Ken Moule's London Jazz Chamber Orchestra, with an International gathering in Germany and with British bassist Peter Ind in a series of duets. Astonishingly, until his present album, he has never had a release under his own name." --Ray Comiskey, Jazz Critic for the Irish Times.

Louis Stewart's recording debut was circa 1960 when he played on a recording made for Gael Linn Pops on RTE Radio. This show featured modern (pop) songs sung with Irish language vocals and by all accounts this was an experiment that didn't quite come off. The recording in question was "An Bhfuil an Fonn Sin Ort?" ("Are You In The Mood") sung by Sonny Knowles, music written by Ian Henry, lyrics by Niall Toibin. I don't know if the recording survives in the RTE Archive. Sonny Knowles later recorded this as a single for Gael Linn, but whether it's the same recording I cannot say.



Discography:

• Louis the First
LP - Hawk Records - SHALP 147 - IRL - 1975

Lineup: Louis Stewart (guitar), Martin Walshe (bass), John Wadham (drums).

Notes: Recorded September 1975 in Trend Studios Dublin, engineered by Fred Meijer. Produced by Gerald Davis.



Louis Stewart & Peter Ind - Baubles, Bangles and Beads
LP - Wave - WAVE LP 12 - UK - 1976

Lineup: Louis Stewart (guitar) and Peter Ind (bass), running through various standards.
"Beautifully conceived performances".



The Ronnie Scott Quintet - Serious Gold
LP - Pye Records - NSPL 18542 - UK - 1977

Lineup: Ronnie Scott, Louis Stewart (guitar), (John?) Taylor, Martin Drew (drums).



• Milesian Source (Ronnie Scott's Presents)
LP - Pye Records - NSPL 18555 - UK - 1977

Lineup: Louis Stewart (guitar), Ron Mathewson (electric & acoustic bass), Geoff Castle (keyboards), Martin Drew (drums, Percussion).

• Out On His Own
LP - Livia Records - LRLP1 - URL - 1977
CD - Livia Records - LRCD1
CD - Jardis - JRCD 9612

Notes: Recorded November 1975/January 1976 at Pat Hayes Sound Studios in Bray. Engineered by Pat Hayes, produced by Gerald Davis.



John Wadham / Louis Stewart - Drums & Friends
LP - Livia Records - LRLP2 - IRL - 1978

Lineup: John Wadham (drums) in duo and trio recordings with Louis Stewart (guitar), Brian Dunning (flute) and Martin Walsh (bass).
Notes: Recorded at Pat Hayes Sound Studios Bray and Trend Studios Dublin. Produced by Gerald Davis.
From the sleeve notes..."This is John Wadham's first album as leader. Acknowledged as a drummer without equal in Ireland, his extraordinarily sensitive plaing has enriched every area of music in which he has chosen to work... Many of the visiting jazz musicians with whom he has played have been greatly impressed ... these have included Gerry Mulligan, Zoot Simms, Ronnie Scott,..."



• I Thought About You
LP - Lee Lambert Records - LAM 103 - UK - 1979

Lineup: Louis Stewart (guitar), John Taylor (piano), Sam Jones (bass), Billy Higgins (drums)



Louis Stewart & Brian Dunning - Alone Together
LP - Livia Records - LRLP 5 - IRL - 1979
CD - Livia Records - LRCD 5 - IRL - 1995

Lineup: Louis Stewart (guitar) and Brian Dunning (flute). Recorded live at the Peacock Theatre.



The Jazz Phantoms with guest Louis Stewart - Yesterdays
LP - Philips Records - 6392 029 - 1979

Notes: The Jazz Phantoms are Alan Kelly (rhythm guitar & vocals), Philippe Godard (contro bass) and Patrick Collins (violin).



Louis Stewart & Martin Taylor - Acoustic Guitar Duets
LP - Livia Records - LRLP 7 - IRL - 1986
CD - Livia Records - LRCD 7 - IRL - 1986
CD - Jardis Records - JRCD 9613 - IRL - 1986

Notes: Recorded at Trend Studios, Dublin on Wednesday 3rd July and Monday 8th July 1985. Engineered by Paul Waldron, produced by Louis Stewart and Martin Taylor. "Extraordinary high levels of focused, deep, creative playing... [Louis Stewart] must be considered one of the instruments' world class players." - Downbeat Magazine.
"Martin Taylor is one of the most awesome solo guitar players in the history of the instrument. He's unbelievable." - Pat Metheny.



Maurice Meunier, Louis Stewart, Michel Gandry - Paris-Dublin
LP - Bloomdido - BL 004 - France - 1986

Lineup: Louis Stewart, Maurice Meunier, Michel Gandry.



Loius Stewart & 4 Sure - Good News
LP - Villa - VRLP 001 - 1986

Lineup: Louis Stewart (guitar), Knut Mikalsen (guitar), Sjur Braein (piano), Sture Janson (bass) and Jens-Ivar Dagestad (drums).



Louis Stewart & Red Lion Trio - s/t
LP - Decibelle - DCB 3703 - France - 198?

Lineup: Louis Stewart (guitar) accompanied by René Goaër (piano), Pierre Michelot (bass) and Philippe Brian (drums). Recorded at Lorient, France.



Len McCarthy & The Guinness Jazz All Stars - s/t
LP - Livia Records - LRLP 9 - IRL - 1988

Lineup: With Louis Stewart



Louis Stewart, Heiner Franz - Winter Song
LP - Jardis Records - JRLP 9005 - 1990 - insert


Louis Stewart et al - String-Time
CD - Villa Records - VR CD 003 - 1990


Louis Stewart, Heiner Franz - In A Mellow Tone
CD - Jardis Records - JRCD 9206 - 1992


• Joycenotes
CD - Villa - VRCD 004 - 1992

Lineup: Louis Stewart (guitar), Knut Mikalsen (guitar)



• Overdrive
CD - Hep - CD 2057 - 1993

Lineup: Louis Stewart, R. Rae, T. McLennan



Louis Stewart et al - I Wish On The Moon
CD - Jardis Records - JRCD20027 - 1999

Lineup: Louis Stewart, Heiner Franz, Goldsby



Louis Stewart, Heiner Franz - Street Of Dreams
CD - Jardis Records - JRCD 20243 - 2001

Lineup: Louis Stewart, Heiner Franz, Strauch



• Core Business
CD - Villa - VRCD 006 - 2004

Lineup: Louis Stewart, Kapstad, Olsen



Louis Stewart, Knut Mikalsen - Paradoxal Intervention
CD - Villa - VRCD 007 - 2005

Lineup: Louis Stewart (guitar), Knut Mikalsen (guitar)



Louis Stewart & The Frank Harrison Trio - You've Changed
CD - Desert Island Jazz Productions - DIJP0001 - 2006


with George Shearing

The George Shearing Trio - Getting In The Swing Of Things
LP - MPS Records - MPS 0068.253 - 1979

Lineup: Shearing, Louis Stewart, .Pedersen



The George Shearing Trio & Robert Farnon Orchestra - On Target
LP - MPS Records/Harmonia Mundi - MPS 15 551 - France - 1982

Lineup: George Shearing with Louis Stewart on guitar & N.H.O.Pedersen on bass, with the arranger Robert Farnon & his Orchestra. "Very subtle and impressive orchestration, always augmenting the fine trio playing."



The New George Shearing Quintet - That Shearing Sound
CD - Telarc - CD-83347 - 1994


George Shearing Trio - Paper Moon
CD - Telarc - CD-83375 - 1995

Lineup: George Shearing, Louis Stewart, Swainson



Louis Stewart & Jim Doherty - Tunes
CD - Beechpark Records - BPRCD001 - IRL - 2013
Duets with Jim Doherty (piano). Recorded at Beechpark Studios, Dublin.



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