All About Jazz

Home » Musicians » Dwike Mitchell

Dwike Mitchell Dwike Mitchell

Dwike Mitchell (born Ivory Mitchell Jr.) was an American piano player and teacher. He began his career as pianist for the Lionel Hampton Orchestra before joining Willie Ruff to form The Mitchell-Ruff Duo jazz group.

After graduating from the Academy, Mitchell joined the orchestra of the jazz musician Lionel Hampton. Hampton had heard Mitchell play at Lockbourne five years earlier and told him at the time that he wanted him as his pianist.[2]:132 Mitchell had abandoned his given name, Ivory, because of its popular association with piano keys. His new professional name, Dwike, was his mother's suggestion, based on several family names.

In 1954 Mitchell was reunited with French horn player Willie Ruff, whom Mitchell had befriended when both were stationed at Lockbourne. Ruff had just received a master's degree in music from Yale and was considering offers from two symphony orchestras. On television, he had seen Lionel Hampton's orchestra perform on The Ed Sullivan Show and recognized Mitchell when the camera panned to the pianist. Ruff immediately phoned the television station, and in the ensuing conversation Mitchell convinced Ruff to abandon his symphony plans and instead join the Hampton orchestra.

In 1955 the two men left the orchestra to form the Mitchell-Ruff jazz duo. The duo placed an emphasis on introducing American jazz music in parts of the world unfamiliar with the idiom. Among these, were visits to the Soviet Union in 1959 and to China in 1981. On the former trip they made a pretext of performing with the Yale Russian Chorus, jazz being prohibited at the time by the Soviet government. In fact, they held two jazz concerts at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory. In appreciation for the duo's performances, Mitchell and Ruff were invited to attend the Bolshoi Theater to see the final performance of the Russian ballerina Galina Ulanova. The 1981 trip to China marked the first time Americans had played and conducted workshops on jazz in that country after the Cultural Revolution.

Read more





Appearing Nightly

Unknown label




Shop Amazon

All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.