Born: March 4, 1941 Primary Instrument: Trumpet
Bobby Shew, (born March 4th, 1941, Albuquerque, New Mexico) began playing the guitar at the age of eight and switched to the trumpet at ten. By the time he was thirteen he was playing at local dances with a number of bands and by fifteen had put together his own group to play at dances, occasional concerts and in jazz coffee houses. He spent most of his high school days playing as many as six nights a week in a dinner club, giving him an early start to his professional career. During his 3 year tenure as jazz soloist for the famed NORAD band, he decided to make music his career. In 1964, soon after his discharge, he became a member of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. After his stint with Tommy Dorsey, Bobby was asked to play with Woody Herman's band upon Bill Chase's recommendation. He then spent some time playing for Della Reese and Buddy Rich, who's big band had just been formed. Many other similar situations followed and Bobby played lead trumpet for a number of pop stars. This brought Bobby to live in Las Vegas where he became prominent in various hotels and casinos.
By this time Bobby was widely known for his strong lead playing rather than as a jazz soloist. So late in 1972 he decided to make a move to the Los Angeles area in order to get reinvolved in developing as a jazz player. He landed a lot of studio work and many jazz gigs, working with Bill Holman, Louie Bellson, Maynard Ferguson, and a sustained period with the Toshiko Akiyoshi-Lew Tabackin big band. His spell with the band produced many fine albums, notably Kogun (1974), Tales Of A Courtesan (1975) and Insights (1976). During that time he played in many Los Angeles-based rehearsal bands as well, including Don Menza's and the Capp-Pierce Juggernaut.
In the late 70s, Bobby toured Europe and the UK with Louie Bellson's big band, appearing on some of the live recordings, including Dynamite! (1979) and London Scene (1980). In the 80s Shew's playing was mostly in small groups, as both sideman and leader. Shew has also recorded many of his own albums. Several of these received very high accolades including his albums Outstanding In His Field which was nominated for a Grammy in 1980, and Heavy Company which was awarded the Grammy for Jazz Album Of The Year in 1983.
Shew has become one of the jazz community's most in-demand clinicians and concert soloists. Bobby is well known for his fiery bebop trumpet and for over three decades has performed and recorded with the elite of the jazz world.
As an educator, he's made his mark as Trumpet Chairman of the International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE) and as the author of numerous articles and books on trumpet performance and technique. Bobby is also on the Board of Directors of the International Trumpet Guild. An important influence through his teaching activities, Shew is ensuring that, in a period when dazzling technical proficiency is becoming almost commonplace, the emotional qualities of jazz are not forgotten.