Your Sunday Morning Jazz Album: Billy Mitchell – “This Is Billy Mitchell”


Sunday morning is when the serenity comes down.  Sunday morning is the cocoon from the heavy exhaustion of too much Saturday night fun.  Sunday morning is when the city agrees to use its inside voice.  Sunday morning is when a hush settles in over the land.  It is a time for sitting still and listening to quiet music and silently praying the aspirin and coffee do something to stop your head from exploding.  Drama and stress are strictly forbidden on Sunday morning.  Your Sunday Morning Jazz Album is just for you, for times just like these.

Well, mostly.  But today, this Sunday, it feels like the first day of Autumn.  The trees are giving hints of the fireworks display to come, the morning air is crisp and cool, the sun is tenderly muted as it begins to shift gears into cold weather mode, and all of this is an infusion of life stronger than the pained aftereffects of too-much-Saturday-night-fun.  This is the kind of day to tell the hangover to sod off and go for a walk.  Today’s Sunday Morning Jazz Album is the soundtrack for that walk.

This Is Billy Mitchell practically screams First Day Of Autumn.  This 1962 session featuring the profusely talented and tragically under-the-radar Billy Mitchell slowly breathes out melodies while kicking up a little dust with the tempos.  The album opener “J&B” is the best example of that sonic equation in how it juxtaposes a peaceful ambiance with sighs of melody while the chipper rhythmic hop keeps the song scooting along.  Bobby Hutcherson sits in on vibes for this session, and in combination with some nifty lyricism from bassist Herman Wright, it’s the imitation of falling leaves drifting down to earth.

The tenor saxophonist’s work with trombonist Al Grey and trumpeter Thad Jones are nice examples of how Mitchell’s laid-back voicing can still resonate in a larger group environment, but this set as session leader really provides him the space to show just how brightly he could shine.

You need this album today, right now.

  • Artist-Title:  Billy Mitchell – This is Billy Mitchell
  • Personnel:  Billy Mitchell (tenor sax), Dave Burns (trumpet), Herman Wright (bass), Otis Finch (drums), Clarence “Sleepy” Anderson (organ), Billy Wallace (piano) and Bobby Hutcherson (vibraphone).
  • Proper Use:  1) A stroll through the city, feeling strangely alive and happy despite all indications that your hangover should have decimated your will to live long ago, 2)  A short walk to your neighborhood bar for the sweet mercy of a bloody mary or, 3) Planting your ass on the sofa, slowing drinking coffee & Irish cream, and keeping perfectly still as a cat dozes peacefully upon your lap.

Released in 1962 on Smash Records, reissued in 2003 on Verve Records.

Music from the Detroit scene.

Available at:  Amazon