Tuesday 6 December 2016

Louis Stewart, Ireland's greatest ever jazz guitarist, dies aged 72

Published 21/08/2016 | 02:30

FINAL CHORD: The late Louis Stewart died aged 72
FINAL CHORD: The late Louis Stewart died aged 72

The man known as the "one true genius" of Irish jazz music, Louis Stewart, passed away yesterday at the age of 72.

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Renowned for his laid-back style and skill as a guitarist, the Waterford man was described as a world-class musician by fans paying tribute to him yesterday.

In the early stages of his career he made a name for himself performing in Slattery's pub in Dublin where he wooed many visiting American musicians. He first began recording in the 1960s and was awarded the special jury prize at The Montreaux International Jazz Festival after embarking on an international career.

Throughout his life in music, Stewart also regularly played at jazz festivals around Europe, playing on occasion with Keith Jarrett and Gerry Mulligan. He also worked alongside Benny Goodman, George Shearing and Tubby Hayes, and performed as part of Ronnie Scott's quartet and quintet for many years.

In 1998 he was the recipient of an honorary doctorate degree in music from Trinity College Dublin.

Later in his career he regularly played to an intimate and attentive crowd in JJ Smyth's - the Dublin city centre bar known as a home from home by many musicians and jazz fans.

Last night, RTE broadcaster John Kelly joined the many fans paying tribute to Mr Stewart.

"When I first went to New York, when the jazz musicians realised where I was from, they always asked if I knew Louis Stewart. He was so admired. A truly world-class musician."

He was described as the "one true genius" of jazz by frequent collaborator Jim Doherty.

The New York Times once described the guitarist as having "the kind of fast company that might overwhelm a lesser talent.

President Michael D Higgins paid tribute to Mr Stewart last night.

"It is with great sadness that I have learnt of the death of Louis Stewart, outstanding musician and iconic figure in the world of jazz in Ireland," said Mr Higgins.

"His many admirers, of all ages, will miss him deeply - and in particular he will be missed by all those he encouraged and who, in a life devoted to music, he invited to join him in making music."

Sunday Independent

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