Red Mitchell “Jam for Your Bread” (1955)

Track Selection: East Coast Output (Mitchell)

Track Selection 2: Ornithology (Parker)


Red Mitchell (b) Conte Candoli (tp) Joe Maini (as, ts) Hampton Hawes (p)  Chuck Thompson (d) recorded Los Angeles, CA, September 27, 1955

Pocket bio: Mitchell took up the bass while serving in the armed forces, a career path followed by many would-be jazz musicians during their military service, though the bass must have been particularly cumbersome on the battlefield . A regular feature of the Fifties West Coast scene, Red worked with Gerry Mulligan among others.  He helped establish the potential of bass as a “solo” instrument, and escape the rhythm section. Like many boppers in the late 60s, as jazz fell out of fashion, Mitchell moved to Europe, living in Sweden, where he remained until the late Seventies, and continued to play for many decades later moving between the US and Europe.


Selection two short tracks – typically short, some time before extended sessions became more common later. Fine West Coast artists Hampton Hawes piano and Conte Candoli trumpet help put an extra sparkle into these pieces.

Vinyl: Bethlehem Records BCP38 (1955)

Deep Groove pressing, some of the marks of time can be heard, not unexpected on a record dating from 1955. The play-on-words title “Jam for your Bread” is taken from the first tune title, found in the Discography, but not actually printed on the record cover itself.

The cover edges bear the scars of Sellotape, an invention of the same life-changing consequences as Tupperware, though with greater impact on record-collectors, as LPs would not fit in the typical American picnic box. Sellotape was in some ways a microcosm of fifties America – a convergence of technology and culture to solve problems it had itself created. Multi-purpose Sellotape became widely adopted to correct the weak paper joints in record cover construction which made them prone to splits. Covers could have been made more resilient to wear and tear in the first place, however in an industry based entirely on novelty, selling new records, why would cover durability be important?

Technology, in the form of this clear adhesive plastic strip, came to the rescue, to solve a problem that might never have been. However covers continued to split for decades. Imagine trying to selling Elvis’s latest record on the proposition that the cover is guaranteed longer than the covers of similar crooners.  The New Elvis: with covers “built to last longer than Elvis himself”. Not really grabbing you is it?

We now need now technology to come up with ways of removing the yellow stain of adhesive left behind by Sellotape fifty years ago. WD40 is not bad, though it didn’t do much for this cover.

But I digress, back to the vinyl:

Collectors Corner

A curio in a suburban London record store, waiting for someone to come along who knows what it is, which lets face it, is not going to happen every day. This record had travelled a long way to its current home, but on arrival, found a number of other Bethlehem family members on the shelf, so it is in good heart following its somewhat belated move to Europe.

6 thoughts on “Red Mitchell “Jam for Your Bread” (1955)

  1. I love Red Mitchell’s bass playing. I’ve got some LPs on Contemporary where he’s a sideman, but none of his sessions as a leader. Like many west coast players, a bit underrated today.

      • Diane, welcome. First, Tubby Hayes biographer Simon Spillett posts, now Mrs Red Mitchell. We are honoured! Thanks for the link to your Red tribute site. I just listened through your interview with Don Manning. So interesting, all those West Coast names in jazz history. (And two redheads on a plane, now that is a story!) Great music selections too. I know has Red has some fans here. Its good to know more of Red. Thanks for posting.

    • Absolutely brilliant link, thank you Randy- and so interesting. I am pretty much in the dark about Bethlehem and I stub my toe occasionally as a result.
      I agree about Hampton. The East Coast scene had its piano favourites, and I think you need to put a foot in the West too. I have his all-night sessions, reminder to myself to listen through a few times more. East, West, there is room for every one here.

  2. Andy Warhol was a graphic designer before he was an artist, wonder if he did that cover – now that would be a collectors item, lol!

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