Blue Mitchell was a trumpet player of the hard bop era best known for his work with the Horace Silver Quintet. Over the course of his career, he recorded 28 albums as leader and appeared as a sideman on close to 100 other recordings. He began his career in the early 1950s touring with the R&B bands, followed by freelance work in New York, before he released his first album as leader in 1958. Later that same year, he joined the Horace Silver Quintet while continuing to lead his own groups. After the quintet disbanded in 1964, Mitchell formed a new group with some of his former bandmates and an up-and-coming pianist named Chick Corea. He then worked with Ray Charles' band for a few years before touring with blues guitarist John Mayall. In 1972, he settled in Los Angeles, where he co-led a quintet with Harold Land and worked with Louis Bellson. Sadly, Mitchell passed away from cancer in 1979 at the age of 49.
Blue Mitchell was given his nickname by one of his brothers. Blue Mitchell dedicated the song "Blues for Thelma" to his wife, Thelma. When Blue Mitchell made his first recording (with saxophonist Lou Donaldson) he had only been playing the trumpet for 5 years.
Born in Miami in 1930, Richard Allen "Blue" Mitchell, did not start playing the trumpet until the age of 17, despite his mother's hopes that he would become a musician. In high school, he played in the school band and after graduation he began touring with R&B groups led by Chuck Willis, Paul Williams, and Earl Bostic. It was during this period that he met influential jazz artists like Stanley Turrentine, Benny Golson, John Coltrane, and Cannoball Adderly, who helped him secure his first recording deal with Riverside Records.