Dwike Mitchell will always be best known for his work as half of the Mitchell-Ruff Duo. Mitchell began playing piano when he was five. He was in the Army from 1946-49 and met bassist-French horn player Willie Ruff while working in a band at the Lockbourne Air Force Base. After his discharge, Mitchell studied at the Philadelphia Musical Academy and was trained as a music educator. When he joined Lionel Hampton's Orchestra in 1954, Mitchell renewed his friendship with Ruff. In 1955 they formed the Mitchell-Ruff Duo, an ensemble that has not only recorded extensively but was one of the first jazz groups to visit the Soviet Union (ostensibly touring with the Yale Russian Chorus but actually performing some jazz duets in 1959) and China. Mitchell has spent much of his career alternating between teaching and collaborating with Ruff, excelling in both areas. All of his recordings as a leader were actually sessions that were co-led with Ruff.