Improvised Music Company

WAX ON Louis Stewart

The revolutionary records and iconic artists that shaped jazz. 

WAX ON #10: LOUIS STEWART 

This SPECIAL EDITION WAX ON will feature discussion and music from 7-9pm and live performances from special guests from 9:30-10:45pm. Full details below. 

WAX ON is both a listening party, placing the needle in the groove of a collection of favourite jazz albums, as well as an intimate space for story-telling and reflections. 

To celebrate our 10th edition of WAX ON, the event will focus on the life and music of the most iconic of Irish jazz artists, guitarist LOUIS STEWART. After our traditional Wax On listening session, IMC will host a very special live duo performance inspired by the performance style and compositions of Stewart. 
On the night, guitarist Hugh Buckley and bassist Dave Fleming, both of whom worked extensively with Stewart throughout his life, will perform. 

Tickets are extremely limited and advance booking is recommended

A native of Waterford, Stewart’s professional career began at the age of 16 when he joined the Chris Lamb Showband in Cork. By the age of 20, however, he had committed himself exclusively to jazz, and his fluency in the complex language of be-bop became quickly apparent. 

He had a remarkable international career spanning six decades, rising to prominence in 1960s, winning successive awards at the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival, including the offer a full scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston - an offer which he never took up. He decided instead to settle in Dublin to raise his family, while his international trajectory continued. 

He performed with many of jazz greats, including legendary US band-leader Benny Goodman and the great English pianist, George Shearing. Throughout the 1970s, Stewart was a regular in the Ronnie Scott quintet, playing almost nightly in the saxophonist’s eponymous Soho club, where his playing attracted the attention of some of the leading jazz musicians of the day. Among the guitarists who admired Stewart’s playing were US jazz giants such as Jim Hall and Joe Pass. Stewart achieved what no other Irish jazz musician before or since has managed – to become one of the most respected players of his instrument in the world. 

The first Irish jazz musician of international stature, he was rightly revered by successive generations of guitarists and is undoubtedly responsible for the preponderance of that instrument in Irish jazz today. 

Irish Times music critic Cormac Larkin will host this special edition of WAX ON in conversation with Stewart’s longtime friend and pianist Jim Doherty, bringing the audience on an intimate journey through the life and recordings of one of the most influential and important artists in contemporary jazz guitar. 

Venue: The Vintage Room upstairs in The Workman's Club, Dublin. 

Doors at 6.30pm for 7pm start 

Additional Music Performance from 9:30-10:45pm 

Tickets for both; €16 + booking fee online, €18 on the door ** 

Capacity is extremely limited so ADVANCED BOOKING is advised.

Louis Stewart

As a member of Ronnie Scott’s quartet and quintet for several years, Louis began recording as  leader in the mid-’70s, making albums with Sam Jones and Billy Higgins, with Peter Ind, and later, with Red Mitchell, saxophonist Spike Robinson, pianist Bill Charlap, and more recently again, a new CD, recorded in Venice with alto great Peter King (“Angel Eyes”).

In the 70s Louis began his lengthy association with George Shearing (with whom he has toured America, Brazil and all of Europe; and recorded eight albums – several in trio with Danish bass master Niels-Henning Orsted-Pedersen, and in quintet with vibist Steve Nelson and drummer Dennis Mackrel). He began working with Canadian genius-orchestrator and arranger, Robert Farnon in 1976, and at least ten albums resulted: with singers Joe Williams and Eileen Farrell, with Shearing and with trombone legend J.J. Johnson, on all of which he is a prominently featured soloist.

In 1994, as a member of the Shearing trio, Louis featured for a week opposite Tommy Flanagan’s trio in The Blue Note, New York. This led to an association – still active – with Peter Washington and Lewis Nash which has included a week-long engagement, as leader, at the legendary Village Vanguard, NYC (with the masterful Richard Wyands in the piano chair, and, for that particular week, Kenny Washington, drums, substituting for Lewis Nash).

In later years Louis continued to make Dublin his home, and performed regularly in Germany and  Norway, where, in the national theatre, Oslo, his James Joyce/Ulysses inspired concert piece “JoyceNotes” was produced to acclaim.

Sadly Louis passed away in August 2016. An iconic figure in Irish jazz, you can read more about his life and influence in the Irish Times obituary

Louis Stewart is one of the all-time greats, and it is obvious from the first notes he plays on any occasion

– AllMusic

He spins out single-note lines that flow with an unhurried grace, coloured by sudden bright, lively chorded phrases.

– The New York Times
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