Mundell Lowe

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Born in Laurel, Mississippi, Mundell left home at the age of thirteen. After working in Nashville, he found his way to Bourbon Street in New Orleans and the beginning of his jazz career. While serving in World War Il, he met the influential John Hammond, who introduced him to Ray McKinley. Mundell worked with McKinley’s band for a year and a half, developing his distinctive instrumental style, and then moved on to work in New York at Café Society and stints at the Village Vanguard and The Embers, among others. Mundell worked with Billie Holiday, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Helen Humes and Charles Mingus, to name but a few. These gigs overlapped with an early morning TV show at NBC with Cy Coleman, “A Date in Manhattan,” and later “The Kate Smith Hour” with Stan Getz, Doc Severinsen, and Kai Winding.
From the early Fifties to the mid-Sixties, he was an active performer, working with George Duvivier on bass and Ed Shaughnessy on drums in Dave Garroway’s “Today Show” studio band. He also played with the extraordinary pianist Hank Jones when they both worked in the NBC and CBS orchestras of the early Fifties. After seventeen years at NBC as a guitarist and arranger, Lowe was transferred to the News and Special Events Department to work as a composer.
Mundell moved to Los Angeles, California, Christmas 1965—actually, he left New York to visit some friends, and never went back. He met Jackie Cooper, then-head of Screen Gems, and began the West Coast phase of his career composing music for some of their television and film properties. Lowe augmented his TV and film work with making his own LPs as well as two successful projects with noted singers Sarah Vaughan (‘After Hours”) and Carmen McRae (‘Bittersweet”).
Even though he had made special appearances with Peggy Lee and the White House, toured Japan with Benny Carter several times, and was a regular performer at the Monterey Jazz Festival, Mundell found he was spending more time writing than playing, which he found frustrating. He made up his mind to turn that around and, during the 1980s, he stepped out of the studio world of film and television and returned to performing, the first love of his long and rich musical career.

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