Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Moved to small town, Shawano, WI, from 1970-1979, then to Green Bay, WI, 1979-1983. First instrument was piano. Hetook no music lessons. Picked up oboe at age 12 in school band and a year later the baritone saxophone for the school jazz band. Switched to tenor saxophone in 1977 and continued on both saxophone and oboe until dropping the oboe in 1982 to concentrate on the saxophone. Performed as a member of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Jazz Ensemble while still in high school, performing with local legends John Harmon(piano) and Tom Washatka(saxophone and Mitcheltree's private teacher). Although offered a hefty scholarship at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Milwaukee, Mitcheltree chose to head to the east coast and attended the Berklee College of Music(Magna Cum Laude graduate with a major in performance, 1987) in Boston from 1983-1987 on a number of scholarships studying with Bill Pierce, Joseph Viola, John LaPorta, George Garzone, Andy McGhee and Fred Lipsius. He performed around Boston with fellow students Danilo Perez, Jacky Terrason, Javon Jackson and Sam Newsome. Taking a break from his school studies Mitcheltree toured Japan in 1985 performing with Chin Suzuki, Tosh Inoue and other Japanese jazz musicians. He then returned to Boston to finish his degree and there organized the first quartet under his own name that played at clubs in Boston. His daughter (Mitcheltree-Briguglio, Antoinette) was born in Boston in 1986. In 1987 Mitcheltree moved to New York and immediately began performing with his own quartet and with other bands such as the Twelve Tone Funk Orchestra(along with Billy Martin, Steven Bernstein, James Zollar and Markus Rojas), the Jim McNeely Sextet, the Seleno Clarke Organ Trio, the Pete Yellin Quartet, the Johannes Wallmann Quartet and others. From 1987-1992 his trio or quartet (with Jesse Crawford on bass, Bill McClellan-drums, Roberta Piket, replaced by Johannes Wallmann in 1997-piano) performed mostly around New York in such venues as the Five Spot, the Blue Note, Augie's, etc. and for various arts presenters. He also began touring within the tri-state region at this time. In 1992 Mitcheltree became a 2-time recipient of the Eubie Blake Award and received a scholarship to further his musical studies with a focus on composition at New York University where he studied with Joe Lovano, Jim McNeely and Ralph Lalama. His trio also became a member of the Music Under New York Program at this time, with Chico Hamilton and Odetta recommending him for inclusion. Mitcheltree became the artistic/musical director and founding member of the American Music Group, a New York City based non-profit musician/composer collective, receiving grants from the New York State Council on the Arts and the Brooklyn Arts Council for jazz presentations. From 1993 to the present the AMG has presented its series, Influences, a music presentational study of the master musicians and composers of jazz at such venues as Carnegie Hall, the Brooklyn Conservatory and Renee Weiler Concert Hall in NYC. Mitcheltree's arrangements of compositions by Miles Davis, John Colt rane, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Tadd Dameron, Woody Shaw and Joe Henderson have all been performed by stellar ensembles at these venues. He was tapped as a panelist for the 1994 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Jazz Fellowship Program. Mitcheltree's two hour long composition, Suite No.1, for jazz sextet and string quartet was presented at Carnegie Hall in 1995. In 1996 he began touring the United States with his quartet, performing at jazz festivals (Celebrate Brooklyn, Coleman Hawkins Jazz Fest, etc.) and jazz clubs throughout the country. His first recording as a leader, Brooklyn, was also released. He also began giving clinics for budding jazz musicians at U.S. colleges and jazz societies. He was the alternate finalist for the Evansville International Jazz Saxophone Competition. In 1999 he began touring Europe and has done so consistently in France, Germany and England, performing at clubs and festivals (Antibes Juan Les Pins, Coesfeld Jazz Festival, etc) as a single with excellent European sidemen (Gilles Naturel, John Betsch) and as a duo with pianist Johannes Wallmann. He performed with Cuban musicians in Havana in 2001. Throughout the years Mitcheltree has performed with Gary Bartz, Kenny Werner, George Cables, Ronnie Mathews, James Williams, Jim McNeely, Charli Persip, Bob Moses, Howard Johnson, Don Sickler, Cecil Bridgewater, Odean Pope, Billy Taylor, Clark Terry, Pete Yellin, Butch Morris, Ralph Lalama, Uri Caine, Ron Affif, Dave Kikowski, Sylvia Cuenca, Bruce Cox and others.
He remains active as a musician, bandleader, composer, arranger and educator. He has taught jazz privately and at the Greenwich House Music School, New York University, Antioch College and as a clinician worldwide.
Brooklyn (1996); Transformation (1998); Union (as yet unreleased); Mitcheltree/Wallmann: Duo (as yet unreleased); Karen Novy: Living True (1997); Mark Peterson: The Blue Room (1999)
Unissued archival recordings of the "Influences" concert series: Miles Davis (1994) with Jim McNeely, Bob Moses, Jesse Crawford, Ravi Best; John Coltrane (1995) with Uri Caine, Odean Pope, Jesse Crawford, Bill McClellan; Thelonious Monk (1996) with Ronnie Mathews, Jesse Crawford, Bill McClellan; Bud Powell (1997) with Jim McNeely, Jesse Crawford, Bill McClellan; Charlles Mingus (1998) with Uri Caine, Pete Yellin, Howard Johnson, Jesse Crawford, Bill McClellan; Duke Ellington (1999) with Kenny Werner, Howard Johnson, Mark Gross, Jesse Crawford, Bill McClellan; Tadd Dameron & Thad Jones (1999) with James Williams, Don Sickler, David O'Rourke, Howard Johnson, David Lee Jones, Jesse Crawford, Bill McClellan; Billy Strayhorn (2001) with Gary Bartz, Howard Johnson, Johannes Wallmann, Jesse Crawford, Bill McClellan; Joe Henderson (2002) with Howard Johnson, Johannes Wallmann, Jesse Crawford, Jeff Hirshfield; Woody Shaw(2004) with Gary Bartz, Ingrid Jensen, Johannes Wallmann, Jesse Crawford, Bill McClellan; other unissued live recordings from 1987-2003.
Radio and television broadcasts:
Live radio performances/interviews on WNYC-FM (Manhattan 1994 & 1995); CNN "Jazz In New York", (1996); WUSB (Long Island NY 1998); WEMU (Ann Arbor MI 1997&1998); WORT (Madison WI 1998, 1999, 2000); KANU (Topeka KS 1998&1999); WICR (Indianapolis 1998); WCBE (Columbus OH 1997); WCPN (Cleveland OH 1997); WYSO (Yellow Springs OH 1997); and others.
The Sound Barrier: Director Joel Metlen, starring Dennis Mitcheltree & Mark Rapp, music by Dennis Mitcheltree & Mark Rapp; Brother Born Again: Director Julia Pimsleur, 2000, documentary film, music by Dennis Mitcheltree (2000); Dead Giveaway: Director David Stern, music by Dennis Mitcheltree (2004)