Jimmy Stewart Is Everywhere
Gretchen Horton Hopper
Jimmy Stewart is everywhere, always on the move, defining the cutting edge. He is part of America’s Golden Age of pop music, working with the foremost musicians and entertainers in the world. In 1991 Jimmy was inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame and the 1999 recipient of two Communicator Awards for Memorabilia and The Art, History and Style of Jazz Guitar. Jimmy conducted and was the Musical Director for the inaugural Take One Hollywood, a benefit event for Christopher Reeve and the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, the Musical Director for Free Arts For Abused Children events as well as lending his expertise to other charity events. Jimmy Stewart, the famous actor? No, Jimmy Stewart, one of the worlds greatest guitar players. You will also find Jimmy on the links as a celebrity golfer for numerous charity golf tournaments.
Jimmy Stewart is, quite simply, one of the most talented men to ever pick up the instrument. He is the consummate guitarist — he can, and does, play virtually any style one might name. This musician is among the limited few who can do anything with a guitar. For instance, in Milwaukee Stewart conducted the first Music Workshop to be presented at Summerfest, one of the largest music festivals in the country. He then played three distinctly different types of music on three different days. He performed a classical and jazz recital at the Piano Gallery, lead a big band/contemporary jazz ensemble at Summerfest the next, and returned the third day to play Rock and Blues at the blow-out rock & roll finale. Can you name a single other guitarist who would be booked like that?
Always an innovator, Stewart made his first major jazz recordings with Gabor Szabo on Impulse Records. His most recent CD Memorabilia, with
J Bird Records is a collection of recordings featuring some of the exceptional musicians of our time. There was never a richer more creative ground than the Los Angeles recording studios from the 1960ís through the 1970ís. Jimmy was one of the few who was there. This recording has a spontaneous creative sparkle, tempered with extraordinary skill and precision, and delivered with an aura of versatility found only among the jazz players. These jazz musicians were among the finest in the world. Most of the players on this album are from that scene. They were and are special people creating precious moments.
Stewart has been a source of inspiration and information for countless hundreds of musicians and singers. Such as: Linda Ronstadt, country singer Juice Newton, hard rocker Tommy Bolan, jazz fusion stars Lee Ritenour and David Benoit. You name them and Jimmy’s’ worked with them ó everyone from Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones to Lainie Kazan to Ray Charles. Stewart has good friends in high places. Musicians everywhere know and respect his abilities — artists like Carlos Santana and actress Theresa Saldana.
A generous and warm human being, Stewart is always sharing his innovative thinking and experience, beginning with master classes at the Dick Grove School of Music where he started the Guitar program and at Musicians Institute of Technology. Stewart was Chairman of the Music Department and conducted master classes in record producing and music/recording history at the Audio/Video Institute of Technology in Hollywood, which was the top accredited trade school in California.
He has been recognized for his abilities and knowledge by leading manufacturer’s worldwide. Instrument designers have consulted with Jimmy Stewart for many years and his ideas have influenced more than a few models and make of instruments.
Today’s rock heroes owe a huge debt to Stewart, the Hollywood studio pioneer who created many of the licks’ guitarists have studied and copied for years. The guy played on over 1,200 records!
Hollywood means movies, and Stewart has done tons of them. He’s worked with the best and was there at the beginning. An example? Stewart created a “lictionary” of guitar sounds for many of the sound tracks and sessions that he worked on.
The nineties saw five more books from the prolific Stewart, this time through CPP/Belwin Publishers and from Mel Bay and CPP/Belwin Publishers. 1998 marked the release of his 27th book, Jazz Harmony for Guitar, by Cherry Lane Music Company. Easy Jazz Riffs for Cherry Lane Music Company also released in 98. Shinko Music Publishing Company translated Easy Jazz Riffs For Guitar in Japan. He taught virtually thousands of guitarists through his decade-long career as a Guitar Player magazine columnist, and with many of his 27 guitar books in the stores today.
As a classical guitarist, Stewart has played with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the San Francisco Light Opera. There’s no telling where this prolific, enormously influential and hugely talented man will hit it next! It might be a heavy metal guitar album, it might be pushing the limits of electronic music with a contemporary instrumental work, or it might be classically inspired jazz.
Gretchen Horton Hopper