Happy Birthday Bobby Shew

March 4, 1941

A tribute to the versatile jazz trumpeter

Trumpeter and flugelhornist Robert Joratz (“Bobby Shew”) was born March 4, 1941 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

He played guitar when he was eight, switching to trumpet two years later and working with local bands as a teenager.

Shew attended the University of New Mexico (1959-60), played with the NORAD band while in the military, and worked with the Tommy Dorsey ghost orchestra (1964-65) and the big bands of Woody Herman (1965) and Buddy Rich (1966-67), both as a lead player and as an occasional soloist.

Shew spent nine years performing in Las Vegas show bands before moving to Los Angeles in the mid-1970s where he became a studio musician and worked with the Toshiko Akiyoshi-Lew Tabackin Orchestra for eight years.

One of the few trumpeters who was equally skilled at playing lead in big bands and inventive bop-based solos, Shew worked with Benny Goodman, the Horace Silver Quintet, Terry Gibbs, the Juggernaut, Maynard Ferguson, Louie Bellson, Art Pepper, Bud Shank and Teddy Edwards among many others; he also became an important jazz educator and clinician despite originally being self-taught.

On this film clip from the 1980s, Bobby Shew plays a double-belled trumpet that he developed himself, the Shew-Horn.

-Scott Yanow


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