Blue Mitchell: Fungii Mama

5 Feb

Blue Mitchell, not to be confused with jazz bassist Red Mitchell or Joni Mitchell’s Blue album, was a jazz trumpeter born Richard Allen Mitchell in Miami in 1930.

Blue sounds like a better name for a trumpeter, and a better name for Mitchell, who packed an awful lot of playing into his 49 years. He got his nickname in high school, long before he met Cannonball Adderley, who gave his career a jump-start, or played with Horace Silver or mentored Chick Correa, or joined Ray Charles or Harold Land. Mitchell made more than 30 albums as a leader and countless more as a sideman before he died in Los Angeles in 1979.

But he had one final gift besides the music he left behind. More than 20 years after his death, the song Fungii Mama was used in a commerical ad campaign, and his wife, living quietly in the Bronx, received a royalty check of more than $32,000, according to jazzpages.com.

Said Correa on Chick.correa.com: “One of the warmest times in my life was working for 2-3 years, on and off, with Blue Mitchell’s group, and Blue Mitchell, he encouraged me to write music.”

Doug Ramsey in Jazztimes.com: “Blue was the perfect nickname for Richard Mitchell. Bright or soft, his tone had a wistfulness about it.”

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