Stewart, Slam (Leroy Elliott)

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Stewart, Slam (Leroy Elliott)

Stewart, Slam (Leroy Elliott) , bassist, singer; b. Englewood, N.J., Sept. 21, 1914; d. Binghamton, N.Y., Dec. 10, 1987. He began playing violin during childhood, switched to bass and worked with local bands (including stint with Sonny Marshall), then studied at Boston Cons. of Music. While in Boston he heard Ray Perry on violin singing and bowing in unison; later, Stewart began successfully experimenting with the idea of singing an octave above his bowed bass work. He worked with Peanuts Holland Band in Buffalo (1936–37), then moved to N.Y., met Slim Gaillard, and formed a duo (“Slim and Slam”). They continued to perform together until Gaillard was drafted into the army in 1942. After their initial success on radio station WNEW, the duo recorded the big-selling “Flat Foot Floogie.” Stewart appeared in the 1943 film Stormy Weather, then worked mainly with Art Tatum (1943–44), with whom he would work on occasion through the early 1950s. Stewart joined Benny Goodman in February 1945, and for the next nine months did several brief interludes with Goodman. During the 1950s, he worked with the Roy Eldridge Quartet (1953) and pianist Beryl Booker (1955–57), as well as leading his own small groups. Stewart was reunited with Slim Gaillard at Great South Bay Jazz Festival in summer 1958. In the late 1950s and 1960s, he worked mainly as accompanist for vocalist-pianist Rose Murphy (including a European tour). During the mid-1960s he temporarily quit playing because of illness. He returned to performing in late 1968, then settled in Binghamton, N.Y., where he taught at the State Univ. during the 1970s. He toured Europe with Milt Buckner and Jo Jones (April 1971), and worked often with Benny Goodman (1973–75). During 1978 he appeared frequently on television on the Today show, often in company with guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli. Stewart remained active through the mid-1980s, touring Europe and also appearing in the U.S. with Illinois Jacquet. Stewart was noted for his unique sound created by singing in a high voice while he soloed with a bow; he was also one of the most melodic and skillful bassists of his generation and one of the few who took melodic solos before Jimmy Blanton.


Bowin’ Singin’ Slam (1945); Slam Stewart (1971); Fish Scales (1975); Two Big Mice (1977); Dialogue (1978); Shut Yo’ Mouth! (1981); “Flat Foot Foogie,” “Buck Dance Rhythm.”

—John Chilton , Who’s Who of Jazz/Lewis Porter

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Stewart, Slam (Leroy Elliott)

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