Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Happy Red Mitchell

Red Mitchell plucks while leader Hampton Hawes plinks in a Los Angeles club session from the mid-1950s. Unknown photographer

I don't know much about Red Mitchell. I have his Atlantic record with Harold Land and some stuff that Harry Babison recorded with him privately, but that's about it. So I was happy to find this EP in a lot I picked up on eBay a few years ago. It's one of Red's few recordings under his own name, and it's a fine example of West Coast jazz from the period. 

Born Keith Moore Mitchell in 1927, Red came from a musical family. His younger brother, Gordon "Whitey" Mitchell, was also a bassist. Red was a native New Yorker and started playing the stringed instrument late – after a stint in the army during World War II. He began his career working for vocalist Jackie Paris, and then moved on to gig with Woody Herman, Charlie Ventura, Red Norvo and eventually Gerry Mulligan's piano-less quartet. 

Here he's in a more conventional setting, with the standard rhythm section and front line. But the music is well-played and convincing, and Red gets in a few very nice solos. As always, these files have been dubbed from the original 10-inch vinyl, and they are hi-res as requested by one visitor, so they'll take a bit longer to download. Patience has its own reward!

Happy Minors
Red Mitchell
Bethlehem BCP 1033

Mitchell, b; Conte Condoli, tp; Bob Brookmeyer, tb; Zoot Sims, ts;
Claude Williamson, p; Stan Levey, d. 

Los Angeles, CA; February 1, 1955

1. Happy Minor (Mitchell)
2. Bluesology
3. Once in a While
4. Long Ago and Far Away
5. Gone with the Wind
6. Kelly Green (Mitchell)
7. Scrapple form the Apple

Find it here: