Space Squid Bill Stewart
- 1Paris Lope05:36
- 2End of Earth05:21
- 5Happy Walk05:38
- 6Drop of Dusk06:28
- 7Dead Ringer05:46
- 8Blue Sway06:29
- 9If Anyone Asks You07:43
- 10Space Squid03:35
- 11Dancing in the Dark05:42
Info for Space Squid
On Space Squid, drummer Bill Stewart reaches for the sky and plumbs the depths with a group of like-minded musical explorers, saxophonist Seamus Blake, pianist Bill Carrothers and bassist Ben Street. Ten Stewart originals and one standard run the gamut from irreverence to revelation.
As he nears the mid-century mark of his life, Bill Stewart finds himself at the height of his powers as a player and composer. His musical resume reads like a section from the “who’s who” of the last 25 years of jazz, from jazz-funk legend Maceo Parker to alto sax icon Lee Konitz. Bill has been a long-standing member of guitar great John Scofield’s group, and has had much to do over the years with saxophonist Joe Lovano and bassist Dave Holland.
His musical relationship with two masterful pianists, Marc Copland and Bill Carrothers is of particular note: Stewart is on two of Copland’s ten and three of Carrothers’ eight PIROUET offerings. And Carrothers is on the present album.
Stewart had some new compositions of his that he wanted to record, and Bill enjoys assembling groups that he envisions will fit the music at hand. This gathering is a case in point: they did one gig, then stepped into the New York studio to record. Stewart’s playing history with Carrothers and Blake goes back some 20 years. They have both previously worked and recorded with Stewart, and Bill is on five of Carrother’s and three of Blake’s albums. Described as a “mixture of dreamer, desperado, and Monty Python humor- ist,” Carrothers has the distinction of being the only internationally renowned jazz musician living in the environs of the village of Mass City in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. His playing credits include Lee Konitz, Bennie Wallace, Dave Douglas, Drew Gress, and Gary Peacock, as well as a couple of handfuls of CDs under his own name. Stewart commented that, “Bill has his own sound and style; he has a spontaneous way with his harmonies and voicings, and is able to get his own sounds and textures out of the piano. It’s original, and immediately identifiable. I like it that he brings all this to the music.” Besides leading his own acclaimed group, saxophonist Seamus Blake has won the prestigious Thelonious Monk competition, and recorded with such heavies as John Scofield, Dave Douglas, Kenny Barron, and Christian McBride. “Seamus has great ears and can quickly get to the core of original music. There is also a lyrical side to his playing that I really like.” Bassist Ben Street has come into Stewart’s musical view more recently, when Ben became a member of Scofield’s band; Blake and Stewart also worked together with Lage Lund’s group. Street is no newcomer to the scene, having played with Sam Rivers, Billy Hart, Mark Turner, and Kurt Rosenwinkel. “I like his energy—he has such a good feeling and flexibility, and always plays for the music”, Stewart enthuses. An indication of the rightness of Stewart’s choices: End of Earth, Septemberism, Space Squid, and Dancing in the Dark were all first takes.
Bill Stewart, drums
Seamus Blake, tenor and soprano saxophone
Bill Carrothers, piano
Ben Street, bass
William Harris “Bill” Stewart was born on October 18, 1966 in Des Moines, Iowa. Bill Stewart’s father was a trombonist and a big fan of Bill Harris, an acclaimed jazz trombonist from the 1940s and 1950s jazz scene. His love for Bill Harris’ work was such that he named Bill Stewart after him, as a tribute.
Bill Stewart’s first exposure to music came from listening to his parents’ collection of jazz and rhythm and blues (R&B) records. Listening to records was the most effective way of getting exposed to different styles of music, since Iowa was a relatively isolated state. Live jazz concerts, for instance, were very rare in that area of the United States.
Bill Stewart began playing drums at the age of 7. He taught himself how to play drums by playing along to records at his house. Therefore, Bill Stewart didn’t get the most traditional of drumming educations in jazz. In fact, Bill Stewart learned jazz drumming using matched grip, a grip that’s mostly associated with rock drumming and the one he prefers using till this day. Drum lessons, drum books, and drum rudiments was something he would get into later on.
Bill Stewart continued developing his drumming skills in high school by performing in its orchestra and in a top 40 cover band. He also furthered his studies in jazz by going to the Stanford Jazz Workshop in California, a summer music camp where he was lucky enough to meet jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie.
After successfully graduating from high school, Bill Stewart enrolled at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa. There, Bill Stewart played in the orchestra and in the jazz and marching bands. Bill Stewart wound up transferring to the William Paterson University in New Jersey, where he enrolled in its Jazz Studies and Performance program. During his stint there, Bill Stewart performed in ensembles directed by Rufus Reid, took composition lessons from Dave Samuels, and studied drums under Eliot Zigmund and Horacee Arnold. John Riley and Ed Blackwell – legendary jazz drummers – gave him some drum lessons in college as well, when subbing for Eliot Zigmund. Joe Lovano was another musician that subbed for Eliot Zigmund. He would latter join Bill Stewart in many of his musical endeavors.
Bill Stewart made his recording debut in 1987, while still in college, by contributing drums for Scott Kreitzer’s Kick’n Off. However, the album would only see the light of day in 1992. After graduating in 1988, Bill Stewart moved to Brooklyn, New York. He began establishing his reputation as a musician by appearing regularly at jam sessions that took place in New York. Word of mouth and his constant performances at jazz clubs helped him secure his first gigs, which were with pianist Larry Goldings and guitarist Peter Bernstein. At one of their regular concerts at Augie’s Club in Manhattan, Bill Stewart was invited by former James Brown and Parliament-Funkadelic saxophonist Maceo Parker, who was at attendance, to take part in the recording sessions for his album Roots Revisited (1991).
Shortly thereafter, Bill Stewart was invited to join John Scofield’s quartet, with saxophonist Joe Lovano and either Dennis Irwin or Marc Johnson on the double bass. This was one of Bill Stewart’s first regularly touring bands. After that band, Bill Stewart wound up performing for various other bands John Scofield put together.