Tag Archives: McKinley Mitchell

The Jazz-Soul of Chess Records

chess checker

Chicago’s Chess Records may be best known for its blues artists such as Howlin Wolf, Muddy Waters, and Little Walter. But in the 1960s, they also had a wealth of hip Jazz and Soul artists, many of whom recorded for Chess’ Cadet subsidiary. On this installment of Reclaimed Soul, host Ayana Contreras featured the Jazz-Soul side of Chess, with music from artists including Clea Bradford, The Dells, McKinley Mitchell, Dorothy Ashby, Ahmad Jamal, The Soulful Strings, and much more.

Catch fresh installments of Reclaimed Soul Thursdays at 8pm (CST) on vocalo.org or over the air in Chicagoland on 89.5fm (NWI) and 90.7fm (CHI)

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McKinley Mitchell: This place ain’t getting no better.

Based in Chicago, McKinley Mitchell was one of the Chicago School of R&B belters I’m so fond of (these include Garland Green, Otis Clay, Johnny Sayles, and Tyrone Davis). Unfortunately, for all his vocal prowess, he was sort of slept on in his day.

He recorded some seriously beautiful sides for George Leaner’s One-Derful Records in the mid-60’s, Chess (also in the mid 60s), and Sandy Wilborn’s Sandman Records in the early 1970s. He had a regional hit in the mid 60’s with “The Town I Live In”.

Below, “This Can’t Be the End”. His patent-leather smooth growl is really evident on this. Written by Willie Dixon, this is (to me) a really a great record, the sort that hints at what a great stage performer he must have been. Jive on!