billy mitchell jazz legend

A native New Yorker, Billy Mitchell tinkered with the piano as a child but did not get serious about music until he entered Morehouse College. While pursuing a political science degree he joined a local jazz band and was soon playing gigs in and around Atlanta.

In 1970 Mitchell moved to Los Angeles to pursue his music career and was soon backing up such artists as Gloria Lynn, Ester Phillips, Billy Paul, Randy Crawford and Linda Hopkins, to name a few. His recordings have landed high on the jazz charts, catering to both straight-ahead be-bop, and smooth jazz audiences. His refusal to limit himself creatively has earned him respect from both sides of the proverbial fence.

He currently heads the “Circle of Friends”, an LA based jazz group that features some of the most outstanding musicians on the scene. He is also a member of the “Los Angeles Jazz Orchestra Unlimited,” headed by Jazz legend Kenny Burrell.

Mitchell has performed at many international music festivals, and countless club appearances. His solo career has included appearances in film, most notably Clint Eastwood’s “Bird.” His work as a clinician has centered on his book, “The Gigging Musician” (Backbeat Books) based on interviews and his articles as a writer for Gig Magazine.

In 2002 Billy founded The Scholarship Audition Performance Preparatory Academy (SAPPA). This program is designed to increase participation of inner-city students in music and arts scholarship competitions. He is a founder and current director of the Watts-Willowbrook Conservatory and Youth Symphony. Click here to Check out The SAPPA Program