Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Stuart, Rory (John)

Stuart, Rory (John), jazz guitarist and composer; b. New York, NY, 9 January 1956. 

Within a year of his birth, moved with parents and sister (Sandra Lee, b. 1947) to Brooklyn, NY, where he grew up.  Father (Lyle, b. 1923), and Mother (Mary Louise, 1923-1969) enjoyed Tin Pan Alley standards, also had some jazz in their record collection.  Rory gained further exposure to jazz through school: a 7th grade teacher played many jazz recordings for the class, and, when Rory wrote a paper on Rahsaan Roland Kirk, arranged for Rahsaan to perform for the class (and then discuss the music) one afternoon at the Village Vanguard; in 8th grade, Jaki Byard came to the school on a weekly basis to teach a music class. Rory learned drum rudiments some while growing up.  In high school, while developing a love for jazz and beginning to purchase jazz records, he took up guitar, and began studying classical guitar privately with Leonid Bolotine.  Immediately before going to college (Stanford University), he purchased an electric guitar and began teaching himself to play jazz.  In first year at college, he played in the school jazz ensemble (Stanford Studio Band), and had the great fortune to meet a fellow student and guitarist, Tuck Andress, who became a life-long friend.  Tuck was already a remarkable guitarist, and, though he only gave Rory one "lesson" (it lasted more than 6 hours!), he was, and continues to be, a constant inspiration and influence.

Rory had gone to Stanford planning to become a marine biologist, but became so drawn to playing jazz music that he decided to spend a year concentrating on the music, and moved to Boulder Colorado.  The first year went so well that he chose to give it another year and, by the end of the 2nd year, he was working enough professionally that he never looked back. He lived and worked in Colorado for much of 1974-1981, with breaks for 3 months in Paris (where he woodshedded and played with musicians including Oliver Johnson and Steve Potts from Steve Lacy's group), a brief time in New York City, and a road gig with Brother Jack McDuff's group (with Ramon Morris and Gerryk King).  In Colorado, he worked with and learned a great deal from fine local musicians, including Joe Keel and the Action Orchestra, Billy Tolles group with Al Hammond Moore, and Dennis Hooten, Jason Emery, Chris Engleman, and others; he played in "Visions," the house band for the Blue Note led by Jerry Granelli, and worked with visiting bassist Carol Kaye; he got to play with fine touring musicians, such as Ernestine Anderson and Airto Moreira, who came in and sat in on his gigs; and he played in the collectively-led band Parameters, with Bob Gillis, Chuck Schneider, Geoff Lee, Phil Sparks, and Steve Gaskin.  In 1977, he studied in Oakland, California for one week guitarist Dave Creamer.

In 1981, Rory moved to New York, working with a great variety of musicians including Charlie Rouse, Charles Earland, Vinny Golia, Michael Cochrane, Steve Nelson, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Ernie Krivda, Larry Coryell, Jeanie Bryson, Reggie Workman, Bill Doggett, Mike Richmond, Glenn Wilson, Ronnie Burrage, Bill Saxton, Vanderlei Pereira, and the Keith Copeland Coalition with John Stubblefield and Joe Locke. He was a member of Steve Coleman's band with Geri Allen, Graham Haynes, and Cassandra Wilson (which performed in Europe and made two recordings, never released) and in the West with Joe Bonner; he performed and recorded with Michael Vlatkovich and with Errol Parker's Tentet (which included many excellent players at different times, such as Doug Harris, Wallace Roney, Vincent Herring, Robin Eubanks,Donald Harrison, Malachi Thompson, Arnie Lawrence, Dave Eubanks, Rael Wesley Grant).

Rory also began working as a leader, forming the Rory Stuart Quartet in 1982, with Keith Copeland, Calvin Hill, and Armen Donelian. The Quartet had performances at concerts, festivals, and clubs. Anthony Cox took Calvin's place from 1985-1986. In 1992, with the help of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Rory performed with an expanded version of the group, adding Glenn Wilson, John Stubblefield, and Dannie Moore to form a septet with Keith, Calvin, and Armen.  In 2002, Rory led a trio with Brandon Owens and Dan Weiss, and, in 2003, he led a quartet with John Ellis, Brandon Owens, and Chris Lovejoy. In 2004, he led two different quartets, one with John Ellis on saxophones, Brandon Owens on bass, and Dan Weiss on tablas; the other with Mark Shim on tenor saxophone, Matt Penman on bass, and Ari Hoenig on drums.  He recorded the former in June 2004, and the latter at the end of August, 2004.  He played sold out concerts at Cornelia Street Cafe, and scheduled a performance of a group he will co-lead with saxophonist George Garzone.  In 2003-2004, he also performed in Aarhus, Denmark, as a guest with Michael Wolff's band in a concert at Innsbruck, Austria, as a guest with Vincent Herring's group in Switzerland, as well as teaching workshops in Schwaz, Austria ("Jazz Outreach"), teaching and performing as a leader with the Colin Vallon Trio at Jazz Nights Langnau (Switzerland), and performing at clubs in Bern and Lausanne in Switzerland.

In addition to leading his own groups, Rory co-led the Cadence All-Stars, and worked in a duo with Glenn Wilson, also playing in Glenn's Quintet with Marc Copland, Jay Anderson, and Jeff Hirshfield. Keith Copeland, in the beginning of the 1990's, asked Rory to substitute for him and teach  "Rhythm Analysis" in the Jazz Department of New School University  when Keith went on tour with Hank Jones and others.  In 1992, when Keith moved to Germany, Rory began regularly teaching the Rhythm classes at New School, and currently leads the rhythm curriculum at the New School, where he continues to teach the most advanced rhythm classes.  Rory has served on the sophomore jury committee with Reggie Workman and Jane Ira Bloom for several years, and is on the Jazz Department's Executive Committee.  He also gives clinics on jazz rhythm outside of New School, including Berklee, Virginia Commonwealth U, and a clinic at the 2001 IAJE conference; he is currently completing a series of instructional books on the rhythmic material he has developed.

Hurricane; Nightwork; Glenn Wilson/Rory Stuart: Bittersweet; Ivo Perelman Trio & Rory Stuart: Revelation;
As sideperson:
The Cadence All Stars: Lee's Keys Please; Noreen Sauls/Earl Sauls/Tim Pleasant: Think Positive; Alan Simon: The Present; The Glenn Wilson Quintet: Blue Porpoise Avenue; Transvalue: Book II (Teapot in a Tempest); The Errol Parker Tentet: The Errol Parker Tentet, Live at Wollman Auditorium; The Michael Vlatkovich Sextet: Collective Thought; Corina Bartra: Corina Bartra Quartet; Pucci Amanda Jhones: Wild is the Wind; T.J. Graham: Standards & Insights
As composer:
The Francis Vanek Quartet: Redwood Range; Tuck & Patti: Lembrancas; Glenn Wilson:  Sweet Thing; Michio Imazato: Sweet Thing;

Unissued recordings:
Rory Stuart date w/ Michael Wolff, Mike Richmond, Robin Gould (circa 1981); Steve Coleman date w/ Cassandra Wilson, Mark Johnson, Kevin Bruce Harris, Sonia, Graham Haynes (1984); Steve Coleman date w/ Geri Allen, Marvin 'Smitty' Smith, Graham Haynes, Mark Johnson, Kevin Bruce Harris (1984); Jeanie Bryson date w/ Steve Nelson (1985); "Estate" on Ellyn Rucker date w/ Mark Simon, Paul Romaine (1987); Michael Cochrane Quintet date w/ Sylvia Cuenca, Jane Carey, George Kaye (1990); Rory Stuart Septet w/ Glenn Wilson, Keith Copeland, Calvin Hill, John Stubblefield, Armen Donelian, Dannie Moore live at the New School (1992); Rory Stuart Septet w/ Glenn Wilson, Keith Copeland, Calvin Hill, John Stubblefield, Armen Donelian, Dannie Moore (1992); Rory Stuart w/ Glenn Wilson, Paul Langoste, and T. Howard Curtis  (recorded 2002, to be released); Rory Stuart Quartet with John Ellis, Brandon Owens, Dan Weiss (to be released); Rory Stuart Quartet with Mark Shim, Matt Penman, and Ari Hoenig (to be released)

Recorded compositions:
The Ancient Ones; Back To The Sea; Black Orchids; Blueprint; Blues in Three Tempos; Cat's Cradle; The Changing Gospel; Circumstantial Evidence; Comforts of Home; Cool Calypso; The Courage To Change; Day Play; Defiance; Designs in the Fabric of Time; Dreamtime; Drips; Eccentricities; Exhilarate; Experiment #2; Falling Angel; The Forest; Hurricane; In 100 Years ...; Lembrancas; Let Me Tell You; Nightwork; Nomads; Nothing By Nobody pt.1 & 2; 9 Roads to Recife; Ozymandias; Partido Alto; Pensive; Play; Promises Fulfilled; Push-Pull; Redwood Range; Reflections; Reoccuring Dreams; The Same Old Same Old; Song of Welcome; So Rise Up; Sweet Thing; Synechdoche in Schenectady; Threads; The Truth of It; Unexpected Path; Waiting for Plugs; (Someone) Waiting To Be Kissed; Wednesday's Child

Television broadcasts:
The Joe Franklin Show; Evening News, WCAX, Burlington VT; Live at the DCPA, Denver, Colorado

Radio broadcasts:
WPKN w/ Phil Bowler (CT); Tony Cenammo Show (Boston); WERS (Boston); Jerry Williams Show (Boston); KADX (Denver); KGNU (Boulder); WRTI (Philadelphia); Eric Jackson Show, WGBH (Boston); WHRB; Skyline Jazz Radio 106.3 cable (NY)

Cadence, "Rory Stuart: Interview,"  1/84
Guitar Player, "Rory Stuart Improvisor," 3/88
Guitar Player, "Master Series: Beyond Scales & Arpeggios," 1/88
Books w/ References:
The Jazz Guitar by Maurice Summerfield
In The Moment by Francis Davis
A Flat Tire on my Ass - The Autobiography of Errol Parker

Meet The Composer 1983
Meet the Composer 1984
National Endowment for the Arts 1992

1989 Downbeat International Critics Poll- Musician Deserving Wider Recognition category
Coda Magazine: 10 best records of 1983 listing

Contact information:

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