Blue Mitchell - Trumpet

Born Richard Allen Mitchell "Blue" Mitchell is best known as the trumpeter in Horace Silver's Quintet during the time that the quintet produced its best work (1958-64). A native of Florida, he started touring in the early '50s with the R&B; bands of Paul Williams, Earl Bostic and Chuck Willis before returning to Miami where he attracted the attention of Cannonball Adderley, who introduced him to Riverside and with whom he recorded "A Portrait of Cannonball" in 1958. That year, he joined the Horace Silver Quintet, with whom he played and recorded until the band's breakup in March 1964. During his days with Silver, Mitchell worked with tenor Junior Cook, bassist Gene Taylor, drummer Roy Brooks and various pianists as a separate unit and continued recording as a leader for Riverside. When Silver disbanded, Mitchell's spin-off quintet carried on with Al Foster replacing Brooks and a young future star named Chick Corea at the piano. This group, with several personnel changes, continued until 1969, recording a string of albums for Blue Note. At the same time he appeared as a sideman with the likes of Bobby Timmons, Johnny Griffin, Lou Donaldson, Red Garland, Joe Henderson, Jackie McLean, Hank Mobley, Stanley Turrnetine and Jimmy Smith. Probably aware that opportunities for playing straight-ahead jazz were dwindling, Mitchell became a prolific pop and soul session man in the late '60s, and he toured with Ray Charles from 1969 to 1971 and blues/rock guitarist John Mayall in 1971-73. Having settled in Los Angeles, he also played big-band dates with Louie Bellson, Bill Holman and Bill Berry; made a number of funk and pop/jazz LPs in the late '70s; served as principal soloist for Tony Bennett and Lena Horne; and kept his hand in hard bop by playing with Harold Land in a quintet. He continued to freelance in this multi-faceted fashion until his premature death from cancer at age 49. Owner of a direct, lightly swinging, somewhat plain-wrapped tone that fit right in with the Blue Note label's hard bop ethos of the 1960s, Blue Mitchell tends to be overlooked today perhaps because he never really stood out vividly from the crowd, despite his undeniable talent
Recommended Recordings
Big 6 Riverside/OJC
Blues on My Mind Riverside/OJC
Out of the Blue Riverside/OJC
Blue Soul Riverside/OJC
Blue's Mood Riverside/OJC
Smooth As the Wind Riverside/OJC
A Sure Thing Riverside
The Cup Bearers Riverside
Boss Horn Blue Note
The Thing to do Blue Note
Things to Do Blue Note
Live (just Jazz) Black Label
Down With It Blue Note
Mapenzi Concord Jazz
Some of the Best Contemporary Jazz Trumpet Players

Wynton Marsalis

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Roy Hargrove
Nicholas Payton
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