Mel Stitzel (9 January 1902 - 31 December 1952) was a German-born pianist best known for his work with the New Orleans Rhythm Kings, a leading jazz band of the early 1920s. The leading members of the group including cornetist Paul Mares, trombonist George Brunis and clarinet player Leon Roppolo were school friends who recruited others such as Stitzel and drummer Gene Krupa to join their band. Stitzel also played with The Bucktown Five in the early 1920s.
At first, the band was known as the Friar's Society Orchestra after obtaining a gig at Friar's Inn, but changed their name to the New Orleans Rhythm Kings after their residency ended. Mare is credited with co-writing several of their best known songs including "Tin Roof Blues" in 1923. He also co-wrote the music to "Make Love to Me" for the group and which was a million-seller when revived by Jo Stafford in 1954. The band also recorded with pianist Jelly Roll Morton on piano thus becoming the first multi-racial jazz band to record.
Stitzel cowrote "Doodle Doo Doo" with Art Kassel in 1924. He also wrote the music for "The Chant" in 1926 after the Rhythm Kings broke up in 1925.
- American Big Bands - Page 1 of the 'K' Bands
- "Jo Elizabeth Stafford." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, Centennial Edition. Nicolas Slonimsky, Editor Emeritus. Schirmer, 2001. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 2005.
- Allmusic.com article on Mel Stitzel
- Allmusic.com article on the New Orleans Rhythm Kings
- New Orleans Rhythm Kings page on Red Hot Jazz
- Date of Birth at Jazz News Jubilees
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