It has been announced that noted jazz guitarist, WILBERT LONGMIRE, renowned for his stylish fretboard work, has passed away at the age of 77.
Born in Mobile, Alabama, Longmire first came to the attention of many R&B and jazz fans in the late 1970s when he recorded for Bob James’ short-lived Tappan Zee label. Enthusiastically recommended to James by another guitarist, George Benson, Longmire recorded three LPs for Tappan Zee between 1978 and 1980. ‘Sunny Side Up’ was his debut, followed by ‘Champagne,’ and ‘With All My Love,’ the latter two charting in the US R&B chart.
Longmire was raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, and learned the violin as a child before gravitating to the guitar. The first band he played in was a Motown-revue style group called The Students. When he was 23, he joined Hammond hero, Hank Marr’s combo in the early ’60s and later joined the band of another organist, Philly-based Trudy Pitts, playing on two of the latter’s LPs for Prestige. In the late ’60s, he did sessions with French violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and west coast arranger, Gerald Wilson. Longmire released his first album in 1969. It was called ‘Revolution’ and was helmed by noted pianist and Jazz Crusaders’ member, Joe Sample. Longmire didn’t record his next album – ‘This Side Of Heaven’ – until 1976, by which time he was on the indie label, J&M.
After his stint with Tappan Zee, Longmire fell off the radar for many years. In recent years, his albums for Tappan Zee have been been reissued in the UK and Japan. His work can be heard on a forthcoming Cherry Red compilation, ‘The Very Best Of Tappan Zee,’ released on February 9th, which features Longmire’s ‘Black Is The Color,’ ‘Good Morning,’ ‘Love’s Holiday,’ and ‘Take Your Time.’