A Legendary Jazz Guitarist
There’s no doubt that Louis Stewart (1944-2016) ranks among the finest jazz guitar players. Anyone familiar with his work can attest to the Waterford man’s sense of musicality, virtuosity, and sumptuous tone. He was an integral part of one of Tubby Hayes’ best lineups, a member of Ronnie Scott’s Quintet and the club’s house band, and performed with Benny Goodman, George Shearing, Clark Terry, and many others before becoming a leader in his own right.
‘Out On His Own’ – A Solo Venture
Recorded in 1977 during a brief visit home from his London and European schedule, Out On His Own showcases Stewart’s incredible talent as a solo artist. Following a trio recording (Louis The First, 1975) and a duo set with double bassist Peter Ind (Beyond Baubles, Bangles and Beads, 1976), it was only fitting that this time Stewart should be the only musician present, accompanying himself on a second guitar on half of the tracks. The album is now being reissued by the newly reactivated Livia Records on February 24, almost half a century after label founder Gerald Davis first released it.
Expansion and Remastering
The CD (vinyl is due to follow) has been expanded from the original album by five tracks. Three had been added to a previous CD release in 1995 by the German specialist guitar label Jardis, and two tracks are now heard for the first time. The sound is gorgeous – the original album was beautifully recorded in just over a day by Pat Hayes at his basement studio in Bray (on the coast near Dublin), and the new mastering by Michael Buckley brings out all the subtlety and warmth of Stewart’s Gibson archtop.
A Varied Repertoire
The repertoire is mostly a familiar mix of American Songbook standards and jazz compositions. Some of the solo performances, such as I’m Old Fashioned, are so spectacular that it may take a minute to determine if it’s one of the self-accompanied tracks or not. Stewart’s two-guitar approach works very effectively, especially on a high tempo Blue Bossa and a beautiful version of Chick Corea’s Windows.
There are some less obvious choices, such as General Mojo’s Well Laid Plan by Steve Swallow, with its pretty melody, and an all-too-short version of the traditional Irish folk song She Moved Through the Fair. One of the previously unissued tracks is a fine two-guitar version of Charles Lloyd’s Forest Flower, and the off-the-cuff Blues is sensational, with Stewart digging deep with searing runs and turnarounds.
A Welcome Reissue
This is an excellent reissue of an important Irish jazz album by a wonderful jazz guitar player.
Out on his Own is released on February 24.