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Bob Stewart: I Concentrate on You

There’s a quote attributed to Robert Parker, whose “Spenser” books launched the Spenser For Hire TV series during the ’80s: “Sinatra died, Hartman died, Joe Williams died… Thank God we have Bob Stewart!” Well, Stewart did have a career once, during the ’60s and ’70s, but he couldn’t fight the rock wave. So he went fishing. Literally. He got himself a 90-foot charter boat, called himself Big Capt. Bob and enjoyed life until a chance meeting with Harold Danko revived his thirst for vocal stardom. He set up two sessions with rhythm sections and a horn man, one fronted by Hank Jones, the other by Sir Roland Hanna.

But Stewart’s rich baritone is not ready for a comeback. “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?” typifies his best and worst moments: those pick-up notes that begin the tune can separate the men from the boys. Stewart falls right into the trap. His intonation is unreliable, and he succumbs to the same fate when he sings the release. But repeating the bridge, his dramatic power is proclaimed with confidence. Can intonation be taught? Can you learn swing? Doubtful. For the latter, check “After You’ve Gone.”

Originally Published