Blue Mitchell was born March 13, 1930 in Miami, Florida. He took up trumpet in high school where he acquired his nickname. After high school, he toured with R&B bands led by Paul Williams, Earl Bostic, and Chuck Willis. After returning to Miami, he was heard by Cannonball Adderly, who took him to New York to record for Riverside in 1958. Mitchell gained a reputation working with Horace Silver’s quintet from 1958 to March of 1964, where his lyrical playing and beautiful tone perfectly complemented Silver’s simplified, soulful brand of bop. When Silver disbanded in 1963, Mitchell formed his own group, employing most of his fellow musicians, with Silver's place being taken by Chick Corea. This band continued until the end of the decade, at which time Mitchell joined the band that was backing Ray Charles. During the early 70s, Mitchell played with a number of artists in fields outside jazz, notably bluesman John Mayall and popular singers such as Tony Bennett and Lena Horne. Resident in Los Angeles from the mid-70s, Mitchell freelanced in both small and big bands, including those led by Harold Land, Louie Bellson and Bill Berry.
Blue Mitchell died of cancer on May 21st 1979 in Los Angeles, California at the age of 49.