b. Florence Kathleen Stobart, 1 April 1925, South Shields, Co. Durham, England, d. 5 July 2014. Stobart in her long career as a leading jazz saxophonist recorded and played with countless top musicians, yet her own recorded output was comparatively sparse. From her professional debut at the age of 14 she eventually moved to London where work was more plentiful, playing with Art Pepper (then a serviceman) while posted in the UK during the war. Following a spell with the Vic Lewis big band during the late '40s Stobart married trumpeter Bert Courtley and formed her own band in the early '50s. Her work over many years with Humphrey Lyttelton produced some of her finest playing and Lyttelton rightly regarded her as a world-class musician. Her other credits include work with Johnny Griffin, Al Haig, Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines, Buddy Tate, Zoot Sims, Harry Beckett and Dick Hyman. Stobart topped the bill at the first British women’s jazz festival in 1982 and was a member of Gail Force 17 (the women’s big band) during the mid-'80s. Additionally she made a reputation as a music teacher. Still refusing to retire from the road, she was on tour with Lyttelton again throughout the '90s. She died on 5 July 2014 at the age of 89.
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