Red Mitchell

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For the ice hockey player, see Red Mitchell (ice hockey).
Red Mitchell
65654 Down Town jazzklubb.jpg
Rune Gustafsson, Red Mitchell and Egil "Bop" Johansen giving a concert at Down Town jazz club in Oslo in 1972.
Background information
Born (1927-09-20)20 September 1927
New York City
Origin USA
Died 8 November 1992(1992-11-08) (aged 65)
Salem, Oregon
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Jazz musician, composer
Instruments Upright bass, piano, alto saxophone, clarinet
Labels Soul Note

Keith Moore "Red" Mitchell (September 20, 1927, New York City – November 8, 1992, Salem, Oregon), was an American jazz double-bassist, composer, lyricist, and poet.


Mitchell was born on September 20, 1927, in New York City. His younger brother, Whitey Mitchell, also became a jazz bassist.

Mitchell was raised in New Jersey by a father who was an engineer and loved music, and a mother who loved poetry. His first instruments were piano, alto saxophone, and clarinet. Although Cornell University awarded him an engineering scholarship, by 1947 he was in the US Army playing bass. The next year he was in a jazz trio in New York City.

Mitchell became known for performing and/or recording with Mundell Lowe, Chubby Jackson, Charlie Ventura, Woody Herman, Red Norvo, Gerry Mulligan, and, after joining the West Coast jazz scene in the early 1950s, with André Previn, Shelly Manne, Hampton Hawes, Billie Holiday, Stan Seltzer, Ornette Coleman, and others. He also worked as a bassist in the TV and film studios around Los Angeles, occasionally appearing on screen. Mitchell also appeared in documentaries about Tal Farlow, and Zoot Sims.

Saxophonist Harold Land and Mitchell founded and co-led a quintet in the early 1960s. In 1966, Red began tuning his bass in fifths (as the violin, viola, and cello are tuned), and his tuning method opened up many possibilities for bassists.

Mitchell moved to Stockholm in 1968.[1] He won a Swedish Grammy Awards in 1986 and again in 1991 for his recorded performances as a pianist, bassist, and vocalist, and for his compositions and poetic song lyrics.

During this period, Mitchell performed and/or recorded with Clark Terry, Lee Konitz, Herb Ellis, Jim Hall, Joe Pass, Kenny Barron, Hank Jones, Ben Webster, Bill Mays, Warne Marsh, Jimmy Rowles, Phil Woods, Roger Kellaway, Putte Wickman and others. He frequently collaborated in duos, most notably with pianist Kellaway after the mid-1980s.

Returning to the United States in early 1992, Mitchell settled in Oregon where he died at age 65 on November 8, 1992.[2]

A collection of his poetry was published posthumously. His widow is preparing a biography.


As leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Gene Ammons

With Chet Baker

With Maynard Ferguson

With Ben Webster

With J.J. Johnson

With Dick Rosmini


  1. ^ Leonard Feather (April 5, 1983). "Red Mitchell Brings His Bass Home". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-09-03. Red Mitchell, a Swedish resident for 14 years, is getting to spend more and more time back home these days and had to come from New York for his ... 
  2. ^ "Keith "Red" Mitchell". Orlando Sentinel. November 11, 1992. Retrieved 2012-09-03. Keith "Red" Mitchell, a jazz bassist who played with such greats as Dizzy Gillespie and Billie Mitchell ... 

External links[edit]