Mel Stitzel

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Here we have a true German connection for New Orleans jazz. Mel Stitzel immigrated from his native Deutschland to Chicago in the early 20th century, eventually becoming known as the composer of many standard,…
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Artist Biography by

Here we have a true German connection for New Orleans jazz. Mel Stitzel immigrated from his native Deutschland to Chicago in the early 20th century, eventually becoming known as the composer of many standard, oft-recorded ditties including "Tin Roof Blues," "Hot Mittens," and an interchangeable portrait of American politicians, "Jackass Blues." As a pianist Stitzel started with the New Orleans Rhythm Kings in 1923, attracting enough attention to garner a fat share of available arranging chores for various Chicago bandleaders including Floyd Town and Bob Pacelli.

Stitzel continued activities as arranger and pianist through the '30s and began leading his own combo during the '40s. This group held forth for an extended stint on the bandstand at Chicago's Green Mill Ballroom. Danny Alvin, a bandleading drummer, put the pianist back into a sideman's role in the early '50s. The number of recordings of this artist's songs vastly outnumber the sides where he is featured as a pianist, revisionists such as the fine Mandy Patinkin continuing to increase the former tally. Stitzel does have a respectable discography, however, some of his best piano recordings dating from the mid-'20s with groups such as the Bucktown Five and an early Benny Goodman Trio.