Saxophonist Grant Stewart revisits old favourites on The Lighting of the Lamps

Acclaimed tenor saxophonist Grant Stewart has announced his new album The Lighting of the Lamps, due to be released on June 17.

The Toronto-born, New York-based musician’s latest release with Cellar Live follows his 2020 album Rise and Shine. This new album features Stewart’s long-time collaborators including bassist David Wong, pianist Tardo Hammer and drummer Phil Stewart, with trumpeter Bruce Harris joining the group as a special guest.

The recording sessions found the quintet in the legendary Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliff, N.J. “It always feels like magic,” Stewart says of the studio that has birthed many iconic jazz recordings since 1959.

On The Lighting of the Lamps, Stewart and his group have reinterpreted classic tunes like Elmo Hope’s Mo Is On, Dexter Gordon’s I’m a Fool to Want You and Thad Jones’s Bitty Ditty. Stewart also taps into his musical roots with the Clifford Jordan tunes Little Spain and Bearcat, which call back to his time learning the jazz fundamentals as a teenager in Toronto; it was there that he heard Jordan for the first time, and he later encountered him regularly on New York’s circuit when he moved there at the age of 19.

The chemistry that Stewart’s group establishes throughout the album’s eight tracks is evident, and Harris’s playing adds another distinct and colourful voice to the mix.

“I was really happy to have Bruce with me on this date,” Stewart says. “He’s a fantastic trumpet player, and we’ve got to work together quite a bit over the last few years.”

Overall, the musical direction and approach to soloing on The Lighting of the Lamps are consistent with Stewart’s style that he’s established throughout the years: finding new insights from old songs, making space for each player’s distinctive voice, and allowing an open atmosphere for heartfelt expression to shine brightly in the album’s hour-long runtime.

Here’s the track listing:

  1. Little Spain
  2. A Piece of Art
  3. Ghost of a Chance
  4. Out of the Past
  5. Mo Is On
  6. I’m a Fool to Want You
  7. Bearcat
  8. Bitty Ditty

Grant Stewart’s The Lighting of the Lamps is out June 17, 2022, via Cellar Live.

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