Freddie Mitchell

1949-1950

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Longtime collectors of 78-rpm records might be intimately familiar with the Derby label, a small R&B outfit dedicated to the simple pleasures of good-time handclapping dance music. Invariably, any surviving 78-rpm platters bearing this label are beat to hell as a result of endless service under blunt phonograph needles at all-night parties. Heavy-hitting tenor saxophonist Freddie Mitchell was a roaring success with his gritty, smoking hot jump tunes, boogies, and occasional calypsos. Legend has it Mitchell was a rather soft-spoken, modest individual who became a sort of well-intentioned Mr. Hyde whenever he performed in public, his blistering hot saxophone backed by trombone and baritone sax. The marvelous pianos used on these sides sound like all-but-abandoned uprights with chipped keys and tarnished pedals. Freddie Mitchell could take any melody and turn it into a satisfying vehicle for relaxed dancing and cutting loose. His all-purpose "Auld Lang Syne Boogie" is exciting at any time of year but will liven up any New Year's party where people aren't allergic to vintage instrumental R&B.

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