Born in Invercargill, New Zealand, Mike began learning the clarinet, well into his teens, before picking up a saxophone at the age of 17. Soon after he began working with local pop and jazz groups, landing gigs with New Zealand music icons Midge Marsden, Liam Ryan, Ray Columbus and others.
At 21 he moved to Adelaide, Australia to begin jazz studies at the Elder Conservatorium and joined the teaching faculty soon after graduation.
In 2001 Mike was the inaugural winner of The Barossa Wine Makers Jazz Scholarship. This allowed him to travel to the USA to study with jazz masters George Coleman and Rich Perry.
In 2003, Mike was awarded a scholarship to commence a Masters Degree of Music at Purchase College in New York. During this time he studied and performed with jazz legends such as, Jon Faddis, James Moody, Joe Lovano, Jimmy Heath, Frank Wess, Mark Turner Ralph Lalama, Javon Jackson, Steve Wilson, Adam Nausbaum, David Hazeltine among many others.
Through considerable help and encouragement from close friend and mentor Jon Faddis, Mike made his solo recording debut in New York, with a stellar rhythm section comprised of Renee Rosness (piano), Todd Coolman (bass) and Lewis Nash (drums) and produced by Jon Faddis. The resulting album Serenity is a hard swinging record featuring some of Mike's compositions and arrangements of standards from Joe Henderson to Thelonius Monk.
Mike is currently living and performing in Adelaide and teaching at the Elder School of Music. He runs the acclaimed Mike Stewart Big Band that has hosted jazz luminaries such as Bob Mintzer, Jon Gordon, George Garzone, Joe Chindamo, Jim Pugh, Ray Vega, Chris McNulty, Paul Bollenback and Jamie Oehlers to name a few. Mike performs frequently with his trio Songbook, is a member of the Adelaide Sax Pack and is much in demand as a sideman, teacher, and clinician.