Born: November 7, 1952 Primary Instrument: Vocalist
It all started because his dad went to Juilliard Music College where he met Tommy’s mom. Tommy’s father, Tom, Sr., jazz bass trombonist, and his mother, Simi, an operatic soprano, had met and married while students at the Juilliard School of Music. By the time Tommy, Jr., was 11 months old, he and his mom were living on the road and touring America with dad’s band. The family finally settled in New Jersey, and Tom, Sr., began work in New York as a staff musician on NBC TV’s hit, The Sid Caesar Show.
Tom, Sr., was also now recording at sessions with such stellar Jazz legends as Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Stan Getz, and with luminaries like Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald. When he was able, dad brought young Tommy along to some of his recording dates. Being musically predisposed, Tommy began playing the piano at the age of 4, and soon after that, the trumpet, drums, and singing.
Once when his dad was playing the Kraft Music Hall NBC TV show, the orchestra’s drummer, Ed Shaughnessy (Doc Severinsen and the NBC Orchestra/The Tonight Show), invited Tommy to sit in; and at 15 years old, he played with that band before the studio audience. It must have been quite a thrill knowing that the host, Herb Alpert, and his guest, Louis Armstrong, just might be listening in.
Tommy got his first taste at writing for a jazz band while his dad was a part of the Dick Cavett Show Orchestra lead by Bobby Rosengarten on ABC-TV. The charts were performed regularly by the band during the broadcast of the show and earned his first royalties as a writer. Incidentally a new young face on the scene was brought in to play trumpet with two outstanding veterens, Joe Wilder and Ray Crisara. It was Randy Brecker.
Tommy started his musical career singing, playing drums, trumpet, and piano, right after high school in local bands and as a solo. Eventually though, he concentrated on his songwriting, arranging, and his singing which can best be described as soulful, powerful, and yet sensitive--the result of his many years performing live.
As someone who grew up during the 1960s, Tommy’s musical tastes are no doubt diverse, and this shows in his songwriting and ability to arrange so many different styles of music. One of his Pop songs, Where Do We Go From Here, was signed by April/Blackwood Publishing. Hubert Laws recorded Tommy’s Jazz composition, Your Love. and released it on Warner Bros. Records. Another of Tommy’s songs, If This Ain’t Love, was recorded by Jay Novelle on Emergency Records and hit the Top 10 on the Billboard Dance Chart. He was also invited to co-write the soulful horn arrangements on Laura Nyro’s title track, Angel In The Dark, that was completed after her death. And most recently, Tommy’s Jazz instrumental composition, Messenger, recorded by guitar phenom John Tropea (who has performed on the recordings of Paul Simon, Eric Clapton, and Van Morrison), is getting airplay in Japan.
His early successes led to a career singing, and then writing and producing music in many major national radio and TV commercials for clients Coca- Cola, The NY Rangers, Toyota, among many others. Tommy’s productions have included working with Michael Bolton, Leon Russell, Irene Cara, Martha Wash, and Patti Austin.
Tommy resides in Jupiter, Florida, and over the some 25 years span of his musical career, continues to sing and perform live as a solo and with the Tommy Mitchell Band. He has been on stage with Darlene Love, Phoebe Snow, Ben E. King, Paul Shaffer, and Blood Sweat and Tears