Mundell Lowe favors one note where other guitarists might play ten. Or a hundred and ten.
"I'll Never Be the Same"
...by the Mundell Lowe Quartet
An 80-year gig: jazz-guitarist Mundell Lowe was with Peggy Lee at the White House in 1970; he played Playboy Jazz in the ’80s when it still meant something; spent years as music director with the Monterey Jazz Festival; toured with Billie Holiday, Lester Young, Benny Carter; has scores of film and television credits; and was nominated for a Grammy. His list of album credits reads like a ghostly roll call from a bygone age: Rosemary Clooney, Sammy Davis Jr., Herbie Mann, Johnny Hodges, Ella Fitzgerald... Not bad for a guy who left his Mississippi home at the age of 13.
That’s when Lowe set out for the greener musical pastures of Nashville, then New Orleans, did some armed-forces time during World War II, and landed up in New York. The club thing was good, but instead of sitting home and waiting for the telephone to ring, Lowe found regular work on network television shows. He would become the noted composer of such film soundtracks as Billy Jack and schlock television like Hawaii Five-0 and Starsky and Hutch.
Although never one for showy fretwork, the Mississippi Music Hall of Famer has been singled out as one of the best among mainstream jazz-guitar players, a melodic and graceful guitarist with bebop under his fingers. He once told a reviewer he liked to emulate the edgy tone and line of a tenor saxophone, which may explain why Lowe favors one note where other guitarists might play ten. Or a hundred and ten. Television gigs brought him to Los Angeles; in the ’80s, he and his wife drifted south to San Diego, where they reside to this day. This is a career that finds Lowe still gigging at the age of 93. No, maybe not so much as in years past, but he still shows up, plugs in, and delivers the goods.
He will be appearing with Holly Hofmann, Marshall Hawkins, and Duncan Moore.