1918 to 2004
Based on an impressive international career that spanned 56 years, Frank Sinatra was regarded worldwide as the finest interpreter of American popular song. A remarkable fact is that he made only one recording using a solo guitar as accompaniment. The composition was It's Sunday and in order to convey the tender intimacy of this love song Sinatra chose the inimitable guitar play of Tony Mottola. 'Ol' Blue Eyes' could have had his pick among any of the great session players on both the East and West coast but without a moment of hesitation, Sinatra chose the by-then 62 year old, retired guitarist he had first met four decades earlier.
Born in 1918, Anthony Mottola was plying his trade and hoeing his chops in the rhythm section of George Hall's orchestra by the age of 18. In a 60-year-career he arranged, accompanied and recorded with the likes of Perry Como, Rosemary Clooney, Johnny Mathis, Billie Holliday and Frank Sinatra among many others. As a composer for both film and television, his playing could be heard in venues varying from Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows to The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, where Mottola was an original band member. In the 1950s and 60s the unique sound of Tony Mottola was heard and recognized by millions. As a founding member of the famed Manhattan Guitar Club, his colleagues were players like Al Caiola, Johnny Smith, and Don Arnonr. It is telling and fitting that among all the respect and accolades Mottola earned for his playing over the years, it is the praise from his colleagues that resonates the strongest. In the words of Bucky Pizzarelli, "He could read anything you put in front of him. He could interpret something and it was really Tony Mottola. He was the best."
What follows on these pages, is the guitar collection of one of America's most significant jazz guitarists. With over fifty Mottola jazz LP's on both the Command and Project 6 Records label, his body of recorded work is intently studied and collected by jazz guitarists all over the world. During his long, collaborative relationship with Ted MacCarty of Gibson Incorporated, Mottola both endorsed and performed on Gibson guitars. These are the instruments of a working musician and they represent the heart of the sound this talented guitarist was rightly celebrated for.
From the Collection of the late Tony Mottola