Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Bobby Shew began playing the guitar at the age of eight and switched to trumpet at ten. By the time he was thirteen, he was playing at local dances with a number of bands. 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 nights playing at a dinner club, giving him an early start to his professional career.
He spent three years as the jazz trumpet soloist in the famed NORAD multi-service band. Shortly after leaving, he joined the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra under the direction of Sam Donahue, which gave him the chance to perform with trumpet legend Charlie Shavers. 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, whose big band had just been formed.
Many 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 develop as a jazz player.
Once in Los Angeles, Bobby spent time with the groups of Art Pepper, Bud Shank, Horace Silver Quintet and Frank Strazzeri-Sam Most, as well as numerous big bands such as Bill Holman, Louie Bellson, Toshiko Akiyoshi-Lew Tabackin, Oliver Nelson, Bill Berry, Nat Pierce-Frank Capp Juggernaut, Ed Shaughnessy, Terry Gibbs, Benny Goodman, Maynard Ferguson, Neal Hefti, Don Menza and Bob Florence.
In addition to being a sideman, Bobby also became a leader, recording many of his own albums. Several received very high accolades from critics and high placement on the airplay charts. Outstanding In His Field was nominated for a Grammy in 1980, while Heavy Company was awarded the Jazz Album Of The Year in 1983.
During this time, Bobby also found a great deal of studio work, including TV shows like "Hawaii 5-O," "Streets of San Francisco," "Bob Newhart," "Mary Tyler Moore," "Midnight Specials," "Don Kirschner Rock Concert," "Happy Days," "Laverne and Shirley" and "Eight is Enough". His work on soundtracks includes Grease I and II, Rocky I and II, Six-Pack, The Muppet Movie, The Drivers and Taxi. He has even held a few minor acting roles in movies and TV shows.
In addition to a busy performing and private teaching schedule, Bobby spends a considerable amount of time actively involved in the educational system, conducting clinics and master classes all over the world. Bobby has been active on the Board of Directors of the International Trumpet Guild, and acted as National Trumpet Chairman for the International Association of Jazz Educator's for 16 years. He authors numerous articles of educational interest in various trade magazines, translated and distributed worldwide. Bobby has been an artist-in-residency all over the world.
He continues to tour internationally and produce and record excellent music. He has released several albums for the MAMA Foundation, including Playing With Fire with Tom Harrell, Heavyweights with Carl Fontana and Salsa Caliente. In addition, for other labels, Bobby released a highly regarded CD recorded with the The Metropole Orchestra and a double-CD set for Seabreeze Records, The Music of John Harmon.