Born: Dec. 27, 1919 Wedowee, AL

Jazz Trombone Basie, Ellington, Hampton

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame

Randolph County native Mitchell "Booty" Wood made his mark in the jazz world, performing with Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington and Count Basie along the way.

Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 10:27 am | Updated: 8:17 am, Wed Mar 6, 2013. by Vanessa Sorrell Burnside

micthell booty wood"Jazz washes away the dust of everyday life." Art Blakey, jazz drummer and band leader

DAYTON, Ohio--More than 90 years ago, a young black family left the dust of everyday life of rural Randolph County and raised a son whose talents would bring jazz into their lives and those of countless others around the world.

Mitchell "Booty" Wood was born on Dec. 27, 1919, near Wedowee. Booty was the son of Mitchell Sr. and Edith Heard Wood. Mitchell Sr. was born in Malone and grew up at Louina. According to Mitchell Sr.'s 1917 World War I draft registration, he, Edith and their eldest son, Major, lived and farmed in the Tennant community, now referred to as Midway.

When Booty was still a little fellow, his family, including Major and big sister Rosalie Wood [Davis], moved to Dayton, Ohio. Mitchell Sr. didn't have a job when the family left for Ohio, but they stayed with cousins until he found one. Four more children, Oziel [Taylor], Dorothy [Walker], Vernice [Satterfield] and Walter were born after the move.

Satterfield is the last surviving sibling. She is now 81 and was iced-in last week in Ohio when we spoke with her by phone. Satterfield said sister Rosalie had returned to Wedowee for visits, and Satterfield had visited Anniston, where she still has aunts and uncles from her grandfather's second marriage. She doesn't know the exact location of the country house the Woods lived in or what church they were affiliated with.

Young Booty took up the harmonica, but Satterfield recalled how Booty loved to watch the trombonists when parades would go down the street. "He fell in love with the trombones," she said.

His music teacher at Dunbar High School, Clarence Francois, was a musical genius who taught him to play trombone. She said, "He was in band, and then he went on to bigger bands."

From the late 1930s, Booty was a professional musician. He began with trumpeter Snooky Young. In 1938-39, Booty played with Chick Carter's Dixie Rhythm Boys and then Jimmy Raschel in 1940-41. In 1942-43, he worked with bandleader and Ohioan Myron "Tiny" Bradshaw and bandleader Lionel Hampton before joining the Navy during World War II. (Hampton lived in Birmingham as a child.) While in the Navy, Booty played in a band with trumpeters Clark Terry and Gerald Wilson and saxophonist Willie Smith. After his military service, Booty played with Hampton again.

In 1947-48, he played with saxophonist Arnett Cobb's band, returning for a while in 1950, with band leader Erskine Hawkins (Birmingham native) from 1948-49, returning for a while in 1951, and with big band leader William "Count" Basie in 1951.

Through most of the 1950s, Booty took a break from the music business to work as a postman, although he did have his own group during that time.

Booty joined bandleader Edward "Duke" Ellington's band in 1959-60 and again in 1963. He would return to Ellington's band again in the early 1970s.

In 1968, Wood played with bandleader Earl "Fatha" Hines and also with Duke's son, Mercer Ellington, who was himself a composer/arranger in the 1970s. From 1979 to the mid-1980s, he recorded with the Count Basie Orchestra. Wood's trombone solos can be heard on recordings of Ellington, Basie and Hampton. During his career, he toured the world, including festivals in South America, Sweden and Japan.

According to, Wood "excelled on mutes, providing humorous, effective and exuberant trombone solos with the plunger and several solid unmuted ones."

The Wood family has a couple of other musicians among its ranks; one sister was a church pianist and Booty's son Mitch is also good on the keyboards. Booty's granddaughters sing.

According to Angi Basl with the Dayton Walk of Fame in which he is included, Booty became a teacher's aide at Dunbar High School at age 53. He and Dunbar band director Ken Tittlebaugh established a jazz lab for students. He taught jazz classes at Dunbar and at Central State University from 1973 until his death in 1987. If he were alive today, he would be 93.

He is buried at Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum in Dayton. Founded in 1841, Woodland is one of the oldest "garden" cemeteries in the country. This cultural, botanical and educational site also has the final resting places of other Wood family members, along with the Wright Brothers, columnist Erma Bombeck, poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, George P. Huffman (Huffy Bicycles) and George Mead (Mead Paper).

Mitch pointed out that jazz enthusiasts today can watch youtube clips of Booty playing with Duke Ellington and with Count Basie in Carnegie Hall, including his signature song, "Booty's Blues," and other solos.

Had Booty grown up in Randolph County, there were probably not yet band directors at the black high schools in the 1930s and certainly no nearby clubs at which to gain exposure. Most Randolph Countians can think of other families who were among the 1.6 million blacks who left the South during the first Great Migration (1910-1930) to industrial cities of the North and Midwest in search of greater opportunities.

In observance of Black History Month, we remember Randolph County's native son, Mitchell "Booty" Wood Jr., and like to think he took a little bit of Randolph County with him on his journey.


More info:

Video: Cat Anderson-Booty Wood

Video: Count Basie - Booty's Blues

Allmusic discography:

Allmusic credits:


booty wood album

Amazon: Booty Wood

Duke Ellington and his Orchestra: Live At the Cave

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