Born Keith Moore Mitchell in New York City on September 20, 1927, Red showed an early interest in both music and how things work. While growing up in New Jersey, he was encouraged by both his mother, who loved nature and poetry, and his engineer father, who loved music and could explain how things worked. After nine years of piano lessons, four years of alto sax and clarinet and an engineering scholarship to Cornell, he started playing bass in the army in 1947.
His first steady jazz gig was on 52nd street in 1948, playing in a trio opposite Charlie Parker’s quintet. By the 1950s he had achieved early recognition for his recordings and performances with Charlie Ventura, Woody Herman, the Red Norvo Trio, the Gerry Mulligan Quartet, Andre Previn, Hampton Hawes and Billie Holiday among others. His second record as a leader, Presenting Red Mitchell, with Billy Higgins, Lorraine Geller and James Clay is still selling. Starting with a recommendation by Barney Kessel, he became involved in film and TV music.…full bio
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