Tony Mottola (1918-2004) had one of the most varied careers as a musician. His output ranged from small group jazz to large orchestra to children's records to radio and TV music. In the 1950's he wrote the music for the popular TV show Danger. The music was so popular with viewers that Mottola frequently received his own fan mail for the music.
Throughout the 1970's and 1980's Tony Mottola produced a large number of recordings that don't fit into the jazz genre, but were successful guitar recordings. The many recordings he made with Enoch Light probably fit better in the popular music area and did much to enhance the popularity of the guitar. At the same time it was not uncommon for Mottola to turn up on recordings with Barry Galbraith, Bucky Pizzarelli, George Barnes and others, on records that are more generally jazz oriented. He was one of the most sought after and respected studio musicians in the recording and general music industries. He was certainly one of the most respected guitar players to ever play the instrument.
Tony Mottola like many of his contemporaries started out learning to play the banjo and later took up the guitar. He got his first guitar lessons from his father and by the late 1930's he was playing in George Hall's orchestra in a rhythm section that included Johnnie Guarnieri and Nick Fatool.
In 1941 Tony took up a staff position at CBS. His guitar could be heard on several broadcast shows including those with Frank Sinatra and Perry Como. In the early 1950's Mottola composed his famous music for Danger.
For the jazz guitar history buff the early recordings of Tony Mottola were of more interest than his later recordings. Early in his career he had his own small jazz groups and he played with Johnnie Guarnieri, Al Duffy, Joe Biviano and Carl Kress. He backed singers like Pearl Bailey and Frank Sinatra. Many of his later recordings like Heart and Soul, Mr. Big and Two Guitars for Two In Love have held special interest for the guitar enthusiasts.
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