Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Lowe, Robert (Jr.)
Lowe, Robert (Jr.), guitar; born in Detroit Mich. 7/2/48 at Henry Ford Hospital. Parents are Robert Lowe and Velma Lowe. He was introduced to music at a very early age through his mother's recordings of black jazz and pop singers.
He was first attracted to the guitar when he saw one hanging on the wall at someone's house. He began taking lessons before he owned an instrument, and later got his first guitar at age 7. He and some young friends began playing on Saturdays at Smiley's shoeshine parlor. In 10th grade he started a band called the Royal Crusaders (named after the Jazz Crusaders) and joined another band called the Bellhops. They played gigs for money around the city on weekends. In the 11th grade he joined the backup band for the female vocal group, The Stereophonics, playing at night clubs in Detroit and at Manhattan's Apollo Theater. By the 12th grade he was working schoolnights as well, and in 1966 just after graduation he became inspired to take up jazz after a cousin played him a Wes Montgomery recording. George Benson was soon a favorite as well.
He worked for and recorded in Tri Sound Studio, in 1965 or 1966. From 1966 until 1969 or 1970 he toured with The Precisions to the Howard Theater in Washington D.C., the Apollo and elsewhere, including a tour with Moms Mabley. For the next three years he worked five or six nights a week with a an organ-based dance band in Detroit. During this time he met Montgomery and Benson when they performed at Baker's Keyboard Lounge and he met Houston Person and Lonnie Smith at the Mozambique. Person hired him to play on a live recording at the Mozambique, "The Real Thing.
A short time after that Lonnie Smith hired him and the band went to New York, Atlantic City, New Jersey, Boston, and Philadelphia as well as recording. After this tour he returned to Detroit and formed an organ trio to concentrate on jazz. He also began teaching guitar at Metro Arts, where he became friendly with the other guitar instructor, James Blood Ulmer. During this period he also worked in a big band with Marcus Belgrave, Ron Jackson, and others, but the big band and the teaching ended when funding was cut off. Soon afterward, in 1975, he toured with Charles Earland to New York's Village Gate, the Key Club in New Jersey, and gigs in Philadelphia. For the rest of the 1970s he worked in a recording studio in Detroit, recording various kinds of music, recording with vocalists, and so on.
From 1980 to 83, he worked in Detroit with Nancy Wilson, O.C. Smith, Marlena Shaw, Ronnie Dyson, Spanky Wilson, Richard Groove Holmes, Jimmy Smith, McDuff, Lonnie Smith, Earland, Joey DeFrancesco, Kenny Garrett, Eddie Jefferson, Mary Wilson and the Supremes, Regina Carter and others. He recorded as a sideperson for Lonnie Smith. Earland and others, and as a leader on his own label (Lowe-Down Records Inc.).
He continues to perform primarily in and around Detroit.
Leader: In My Life; Double Dip
Houston Person: The Real Thing
Lonnie Smith: Mama Wailer
Charles Earland: Odyssey (Dec. 1975; with Ron Carter, Randy Brecker, John Abercrombie)
Channel 9, Windsor, Canada (mid-1990s)
B.E.T. on Jazz (taped 6 Feb. 1998)
Bet on Jazz contest winner 1997 (resulting in taping, see TV)
Jude Gold, "Hot Guitarist Alert," Guitar Player, Nov. 2003 (transcribed solo and comments)