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Willie Melvin Mitchell, 3 November 1926, Kansas City, Missouri, USA, d. 18 April 2001, New York City, New York, USA. Mitchell studied in Detroit and played tenor saxophone with Nat Towles band in the late 40s before moving to New York with Lucky Millinders Orchestra. He spent a couple of months in Woody Hermans Second Herd, and then led his own bop quintet back in Detroit, which included Thad Jones on trumpet and Elvin Jones on drums (1950-53). In the mid-50s, after a couple of years with Dizzy Gillespie, he recorded with Ray Charles and joined Count Basies Orchestra. He co-led a sextet with ex-Basie trombonist Al Grey, and worked as musical director for Stevie Wonder in the mid-60s, before rejoining Basie (1966-67). He used a tough, bluesy tone to construct fluent solo lines. In the 70s Mitchell settled in New York and undertook studio work, he also taught and performed with the Xanadu All Stars.
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