Tony Mottola

Last updated
Tony Mottola
Birth nameAnthony C. Mottola
Born(1918-04-18)April 18, 1918
Kearny, New Jersey, U.S.
DiedAugust 9, 2004(2004-08-09) (aged 86)
Denville, New Jersey, U.S.
Genres Jazz
Years active1936–1988
Labels Command, Project 3
Associated acts The Tonight Show orchestra, Frank Sinatra
External audio
Nuvola apps arts.svg You may hear Tony Mottola performing "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" by Wallace Willis and "The Jazz Me Blues" by Tom Delaney with the accordionist John Serry Sr. and the Joe Biviano Accordion and Rhythm Sextette in 1947 Here

Anthony C. Mottola (April 18, 1918 August 9, 2004) was an American jazz guitarist who released dozens of solo albums. Mottola was born in Kearny, New Jersey and died in Denville.



Like many of his contemporaries, Mottola started out learning to play the banjo and then took up the guitar. He had his first guitar lessons from his father. He toured with an orchestra led by George Hall in 1936, marking the beginning of his professional life. His first recordings were duets with guitarist Carl Kress. [1] [2] In 1945 he collaborated with accordionist John Serry Sr. in a recording of "Leone Jump" for Sonora Records (MS-476-3) which was played in jukeboxes throughout the U.S. [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] His only charted single as a soloist was "This Guy's in Love with You", which reached No. 22 on the Billboard magazine Easy Listening Top 40 in the summer of 1968.

Mottola worked often on television, appearing as a regular on shows hosted by vocalist Perry Como and comedian Sid Caesar and as music director for the 1950s series Danger . From 1958–1972, he was a member of The Tonight Show Orchestra led by Skitch Henderson. [1] [2] He composed music for the TV documentary Two Childhoods, which was about Vice President Hubert Humphrey and writer James Baldwin, and won an Emmy Award for his work. [2] In 1980, Mottola began performing with Frank Sinatra, often in duets, appearing at Carnegie Hall and the White House. [1] [2] He retired from the music business in 1988 but kept playing at home almost every day. [2]


Mottola was music director for the television series Danger in 1954. He used a copy of the script with notations and watched a television monitor to provide the right music. Tony Mottola scoring the television series Danger 1954.jpg
Mottola was music director for the television series Danger in 1954. He used a copy of the script with notations and watched a television monitor to provide the right music.

As leader

As sideman

With Ray Charles

With Urbie Green

With Dick Hyman

With Enoch Light

With Charles Magnante

With Joe Reisman

With Doc Severinsen

With Frank Sinatra

With others

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  1. 1 2 3 "Tony Mottola, 86; Composer, Guitarist Played With Sinatra". Los Angeles Times. 13 August 2004. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "Guitarist Tony Mottola Dies At 86". Billboard. 10 August 2004. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  3. "The Sonora Label".
  4. Joe Biviano, his Accordion and Rhythm Sextette (August 29, 1947). "Accordion Capers" via Internet Archive.
  5. Accordion Capers - Tony Mottola, John Serry, Joe Biviano, Leone Jump,
  6. "Billboard". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. April 27, 1946. p. 124 via Google Books.
  7. "Leone Jump; Swing Low, Sweet Chariot; The Jazz Me Blues; Nursery Rhymes" via Internet Archive.