Reference: FSRCD 946
Bar code: 8427328609463
Born in Albuquerque, NM in 1941, Bobby Shew started playing trumpet when he was a kid, and after leaving the service in 1964, he turned professional. He played with Tommy Dorsey, and with Woody Herman’s Herd, and he got his first experience as a lead player on the road with Della Reese. He spent 7 years in Las Vegas, where he played with the Buddy Rich band as well as all the top show bands, going out on the road as lead trumpeter with Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand, Tom Jones and many others.
In the fall of 1972 Bobby had had enough of Las Vegas, and so he packed his trumpet and flugelhorn and left. He was determined to crack big-time L.A., and eventually managed to make the wedding between the business of music and the art of music. As a studio musician, Shew was on call constantly.
From 1975 on, he recorded and played with groups led by jazz greats like Frank Strazzeri, Horace Silver, Don Menza, Bud Shank, and Carmen McRae, and with the big bands of Louis Bellson, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Juggernaut, Buddy Rich, Gerald Wilson, Woody Herman, and Maynard Ferguson band. After enjoying success as a sideman, in 1978 Shew started a prolific career as leader with all kinds of albums, from small groups to large orchestra, while also leading his own highly successful combo for many years.
Recognition has come for him in the form of acclaims and accolades, but maybe Dizzy Gillespie’s praise sums it up best: “The only guy who could play flugelhorn in the high register and make it sound good is Bobby Shew.”
"One of my favourite jazz gigs (ever) was a London appearance by Bobby Shew in the early 1980s, an elegant display of middle-register trumpet playing, thoughtful solo construction and nicely judged drama. The only thing marring it was a plummy know-all (or know-****-all) at an adjoining table who had an audible opinion on everything. At one point, after a particularly lovely ballad performance, Bobby and the pick-up group didn’t seem decided on what they were going to do next. Play chummy called out “Play A Child Is Born!” I got to my feet and wobbled over. “He just did, wee man” - these were the days when a Scots accent still had some deterrent effect - “now are you going to ******* shut up?”
The group plays the great Thad line here, uninterrupted and with consummate grace, demonstrating Shew’s ability to invest the top end of the flugelhorn with as much honeyed grace as the middle. It’s the only repertory piece in the set, everything else coming from Brisker (including the bustling title track) or Shew himself. It’s further evidence that the trumpeter, whose 75th passed all but unacknowledged in 2016, is among the most egregiously underrated players of recent times, not just a reliable section man. He handles boppish lines, balladry, the electric funk of Kachina with equal authority. The group’s great, too. Fresh Sound always offers an embarrassment of riches, but this one really shouldn’t be overlooked."
Jazz Journal (February, 2017)
"Bobby Shew cut his teeth with big bands lead by Woody Herman, Buddy Rich and Toshiko Akiyoshi-Lew Tabackin. His solo album here from 1979 is an absolute delight, teaming with LA session cats Gordon Brisker/ts-fl, Bill Mays/p-key, Bob Magnusson/b and Steve Schaeffer/dr. Shew’s horn glistens like a full moon on a gorgeous “A Child Is Born” and “She’s Gone Again,” while bopping on ”Class Reunion” and the hip “Navarro Flats.” Mays’ keyboards add exoticsm to the fusion “Kachina” and soulful “Run Away” rounding out this session with a mix of the traditional and (for the time) modern. A real winner, and he still teaches classes while intermittently still having a gig or two in the City of Angels. Underappreciated."
George W. Harris (January 29, 2017)