I would like to take a minute and remember and tell a story about Detroit jazz guitarist Robert Lowe. If I’m recalling correctly the first time I saw Robert play was at the Pretzel Bowl in Highland Park in the Lyman Woodard band in the early 70’s.

A few years later I went into the Detroit Community Music School to teach and was informed that I had a new student at 2 o’clock that afternoon. You can just imagine my surprise when at 2 o’clock Robert Lowe walked into my lesson room and told me he had come to learn how to read music.

I asked him where he needed to start and he told me at the very beginning, he couldn’t read a single note. So I got him a copy of the Joe Fava Guitar Method Vol.1 and we started on the 1st string with the notes E, F and G, whole notes, half notes and quarter notes. He had always played everything by ear.

Needless to say it became immediately apparent at the beginning of his 2nd lesson that he had spent absolutely no time practicing his reading. I made sure he understood the material and then we jammed for the remainder of the lesson. This pattern continued until his 4th lesson.

He walked into the room with a big black book of hand written charts and told me that the real reason he was in my room was that he had gotten a gig backing up Nancy Wilson and couldn’t read the material. He asked me if I would help him by reading and playing the music which he planned to memorize the sound of as I played it. So that is what we did. I never asked him how the gig went.

I was deeply affected by Robert’s passing and still remember his amazing thumb and ever present smile.

Robert Abate, Ron English, Robert Lowe – Recorded at the Guitar Summit 2004