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Mar 15, 2018

My Forrest Gumpy Life: The Great Mundell Lowe

Mundell (foreground) in the recording studio.
The Montana Logging and Ballet Co. got to work with some amazing people over our career. One piece of astonishing luck was gaining the attention of one of America's great jazz guitarists, Mundell Lowe, (1922-2017, recently featured on an NPR special hour as an Unsung Hero). Mundell played with the great jazz musicians of his time, like Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday and Elvis. He also ran the Monterey Jazz Festival for many years.

Mundell volunteered to be the producer and arranger of our two music albums, which we cut in San Diego, not only producing the sound, but writing and arranging the scores, hiring all the musicians, booking the studio and engineers; everything!

Not only did Mundell play a little guitar for the album, but among the greats he hired to back up us boom-chicka-boys was the late legendary guitarist Tommy Tedesco, who's listed as the most recorded guitarist in history! It is said that he could sight read for any stringed instrument as soon as he knew its tuning. And he has a reputation for playing flawlessly. The other musicians told us a story about how once during another session an orchestra was recording a number when suddenly Tommy stopped playing and put his head down on his stand. Everyone stopped and looked at him. Silence descended on the studio. The great Tommy Tedesco had made a mistake!

That's the kind of musicians we had backing us up on our albums. Of course we had the time of our lives recording with these guys. And the whole enterprise was undertaken by one of the great musicians of our time, Mundell Lowe. We are forever grateful to him.

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I'm a sculptor/filmmaker living in Montana, USA. I am using art to move the evolution of humanity forward into an increasingly responsive, inclusive and interactive culture. As globalization flattens peoples into a capitalist monoculture I hope to use my art to celebrate historical cultural differences and imagine how we can co-create a rich future together.

I see myself as an artist/philosopher laboring deep in the mines of joy. I've had a good long career of exhibiting work around the world and working on international outreach projects, most notably being the first American to be invited to present a one-person exhibit in the Hermitage Museum. Recently I have turned my attention from simply making metal sculpture to creating films and workshops for engaging communities directly, tinkering with the very ideas and mechanisms behind cultural transformation. I feel that as we face tragic world crises, if the human species favors our imaginative and creative capacities we can cultivate a rich world to enjoy.

For me the deepest satisfaction in making art comes in engaging people's real life concerns rather than providing simple entertainment or decoration. Areas of conflict or tension are particularly ripe for the kind of transformative power that art uniquely carries. I invite any kind of challenge that serves people on a deep level.