Jazz trombonist Grover Mitchell, known for his work with the Count Basie Orchestra, died Wednesday in Gotham from cancer. He was 73.
He played with the group from 1962-70 and 1980-84 and was the third person to lead the group after Basie’s death in 1984. Mitchell is credited with stabilizing the ensemble and returning it to the Basie era sound.
Under his leadership, the band made several recordings, including Grammy winners “Live at Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild” (1996) and “Count Plays Duke” (1998).
Whatley, Ala., native grew up in Pittsburgh and took up the trombone at the prompting of a high school band teacher. He later earned a degree in music from Empire State College, played in local and regional bands, then moved to San Francisco and played with Earl “Fatha” Hines.
After service in the Marine Corps, he played with Lionel Hampton in the 1950s and Duke Ellington in the early 1960s before joining Basie. He moved on to studio work in the ’70s; gigs included TV’s “The Flip Wilson Show” and films such as “Lady Sings the Blues.” He returned to the Basie band in 1980 as trombonist and helping Basie prep for concerts.
He is survived by a daughter, two grandchildren and two sisters.