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Tubaist brings his big horn to the fore

Then and Now
Then and Now
By Bob Stewart
Postcards; New York, N.Y.: 1996

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This review first appeared in the July 12, 1997 edition of the American Reporter.

Bob Stewart plays some way cool blues, traditional-sounding stuff with a modern funky approach that the kids'll dance to and that really show off his chops on tuba and .... what? Yes, yes, that's right, tuba. ... Anyway, he's got blues star Taj Mahal on this new release and former San Diego club hero James Zollar on trumpet and ... Eh? Yes, I did say tuba ... So, the songs here include old-time stuff like "King Porter Stomp" and "You Don't Know What Love Is" and a couple songs by Taj, even more by Bob himself, and alto saxophonist Carlos Ward, who also plays here and there's even an Ornette Coleman song done up as a blues that's pretty darn cool and ... Now, look, there's nothing wrong with the tuba; surely you don't mean to suggest that we should dismiss a solid soloist playing a cover of Taj Mahal's "Big Kneed Gal," with Taj himself singing and playing dobro. The tuba is a perfectly legitimate jazz and blues instrument, and Stewart plays it with aggressively and smartly and well. In fact, he jams on this album and considering he's played with folks like Carla Bley and Steve Swallow, he's no slouch to begin with.