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Jimmy Stewart

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Jimmy Stewart is an example of a guitarist who can play credibly in any style. Because he has spent most of his career as a studio musician, he has not recorded often enough in jazz settings, but he is greatly respected. Stewart started playing piano before he entered kindergarten and he switched to guitar when he was eight. He became a professional by the time he was 15, working in Lake Tahoe. He studied at the College of San Mateo, the Chicago School of Music, and Berklee. Stewart has always been a student of the guitar and guitar styles, which partly accounts for his eclectic abilities. In 1957, he worked as a guitarist, banjoist, and singer for an agency called Fun Unlimited. In Palm Springs he had an opportunity to play with Teddy Bunn and Earl Hines, and became the musical director for Ginny Simms. While in the military he played at variety shows. After being discharged in 1960, Stewart returned to San Francisco where he worked in the studios, appeared in bands on television, and was house guitarist at the Hungry I Club. For five years he played shows with the San Francisco Civic Light Opera and occasionally worked with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. Stewart's most significant jazz association was his period as a member of the Gabor Szabo Quartet (1967-1969), during which he made several recordings with the fellow guitarist (most notably The Sorcerer). He followed that up by being the musical director for Lainie Kazan and Andy Williams. Stewart became more active in the studios during this time and was one of the first studio guitarists to be able to credibly play rock. Jimmy Stewart has written a countless number of instructional books for guitarists, composed concertos and sonatas, written a regular column for Guitar Player Magazine, taught master classes, and stayed busy in the studios through the '90s. His own infrequent albums as a leader have been for Fantasy (1964), Catalyst (1977), Teceku (1981), and BlackHawk (1987). ~ Scott Yanow

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