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Tyler Mitchell

Bassist Tyler Mitchell has regularly mixed jazz traditions with avant-garde ideas throughout his career, which has seen him backing renowned vocalists Shirley Horn and Jon Hendricks in addition to exploring outer realms as a member of the Sun Ra Arkestra. Known for having a weighty bass sound, his playing can be delicate and swinging at the same time. Originally from Chicago, he moved to New York in the 1980s and quickly became an in-demand sideman, touring and recording with Sun Ra, Art Taylor, Steve Grossman, Rashied Ali, and many others. Mitchell moved to Mexico in 2000 and worked with numerous Latin jazz musicians. Since the early 2000s, he's focused on leading his own groups, and he released his debut album as a leader, Live at Smalls, in 2012. He returned to the Arkestra and collaborated with leader Marshall Allen on the 2022 releases Dancing Shadows and Sun Ra's Journey. Tyler Mitchell was born in Chicago in 1958. His father, Caton Mitchell, was a painter and muralist who was friends with jazz legends such as John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Max Roach. Tyler studied bass with Donald Raphael Garrett (Coltrane, Archie Shepp, Rahsaan Roland Kirk) and Malachi Favors (Art Ensemble of Chicago), and performed with Von Freeman and Paris Smith. He moved to New York in 1984 and joined the Sun Ra Arkestra, with whom he toured Japan and Europe. Mitchell performed on the albums Reflections in Blue and Hours After, which were both recorded in Italy in 1986 during the same sessions, and subsequently released by Black Saint. He performed in the Steve Grossman Trio, also featuring Art Taylor. He then joined Art Taylor's Wailers, and was featured on the live album Wailin' at the Vanguard. Mitchell toured with vocalist Jon Hendricks and played on his 1990 album Freddie Freeloader. He performed on Shirley Horn's 1993 release Light out of Darkness (A Tribute to Ray Charles). Later in the decade, he played with musicians such as Rashied Ali, Frank Lowe, and Larry Goldings. Mitchell moved to Mexico in 2000, and later traveled to Cuba and South America, working with many Latin jazz musicians, particularly pianist Gabriel Hernandez, who played in Mitchell's trio and quintet. Mitchell formed a psychedelic jazz group called the TamoTyler Experience in 2008, including performer/vocalist TaMo TuMa, guitarist Ken Basman, and drummer Hernan Hecht. Mitchell returned to New York around 2011 and reconnected with the Arkestra, and he's since continued touring and recording with them. Mitchell's debut album as a leader, Live at Smalls, was recorded at Greenwich Village's Smalls Jazz Club in 2012, and issued by the club itself. He also played in a trio with Spike Wilner, a pianist and manager of Smalls. Mitchell performed on the Arkestra's 2020 studio album Swirling, and he was joined by Marshall Allen on the 2022 album Dancing Shadows, which contained compositions by Sun Ra and Thelonious Monk as well as alto sax player Nicoletta Manzini and Mitchell himself. Mitchell and Allen also collaborated for the album Sun Ra's Journey, issued by Cellar Live the same year.
© Paul Simpson /TiVo

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