George Mitchell, the gifted hard-driving cornet player on Jelly Roll Morton's Red Hot Peppers recording sessions, deserves wider recognition and appreciation. As his nickname - Little Mitch - suggests, he was not a tall man, but he was among the giants of jazz.
He was born on March 8, 1899 in Louisville, Kentucky. At the age of 12, he took up the cornet and joined a local brass band. Mitchell moved to Chicago and from 1919 on was playing on the South Side with New Orleans jazzmen who had migrated north. He worked with pianist Tony Jackson and drummer Tubby Hall, did a stint on the road and returned to join the Carroll Dickerson Orchestra (1923-24). Later, Mitchell was to replace the legendary New Orleans trumpeter Freddie Keppard in Doc Cook's Orchestra.