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Review by John Book
of This Is Book's Music
Originally written for the now defunct Music For America.
Cameron Mizell is turning out to be a consistent musician who knows how to present himself and his music. The last time out, he released an EP and being impressed by it, I wanted to hear more. I was sent a copy of his debut album and really liked that a lot, so even more I wanted to hear the next project.
Mizell says without hesitation Life Is Loud (self-released), and his influences come from late 60’s/early 70’s jazz, soul, and funk. “Fearless” sounds like it could be off of some out of print Blue Note LP, or The JB’s kicking it after hours without their boss. In fact, Mizell’s cover of “Cold Sweat” is a bit different than most, as he and the band change the tempo a number of times throughout, unexpected but it works fairly well. His choice of covers will blow away any fan of that era of soul, jazz, and funk, including uplifting versions of “Let The Music Take Your Mind” (Kool & The Gang), “Spinning Wheel” (Blood, Sweat & Tears), and “Pungee” (The Meters).
Now when I say band, I should say upfront that Mizell’s group is a trio. He works once again with keyboardist Brad Whiteley, who handles everything from the Hammond B-3 and Fender Rhodes to a toy piano, and a synth bass on top of that. While not as forceful as a John Medeski, Whiteley gets the job done and makes his presence known at the right moments. Adding to the mix is drummer Mike Fortune, who seems to take the approach of Elvin Jones a bit (just a bit) by sounding as if he’s always playing and filling every pocket of the song, but still managing to maintain the core of the song. By taking on the concept of a trio, Mizell, Whiteley, and Fortune are able to bounce off of each other more intimately and have the music be as tight as it can be. Soul and funk has to be tight at all times (all time, I said), and with the openness and freedom of jazz they also allow themselves to get loose withing restrictions, such as when Mizell lets his guitar flow with an incredible groove in “Get Out”. His playing can be light and sensitive, done with intensity but without massive volume, and it works well in the context of these songs, so he’s not trying to pull a John McLaughlin or Al DiMeola although I’m sure he could. In fact, his guitar work is a bit like Leo Nocentelli of The Meters in that you begin to identify him with his style and sound, but he also allows the others in the trio to be heard and contribute as well. In truth, that should be the way all musicians work, but sometimes when guitarists make albums it becomes nothing but an ego fest. Maybe he is suggesting that if Life Is Loud, his music doesn’t have to be. You can dance, groove, listen, or chillax and still get a lot from his music.
Jazz fans will also be happy to know that Rob Fillmore engineered and mixed this, and Kevin Reeves mastered the final mix. If you are familiar with the work he has done over the years with Polygram/Universal, including tons of jazz reissues, you will like Reeves’ approach to this album as he allows the music to breathe, no “brickwall limiting” here.
released 17 August 2007
Cameron Mizell – Guitar, Flex-a-tone, sleigh bells
Brad Whiteley – Hammond B3 and C2 organs, Fender Rhodes, Moog Prodigy, ES1 synth bass, toy piano
Mike Fortune – Drums
All songs written by Cameron Mizell except tracks 2, 5, 6, and 10.
Produced by Cameron Mizell. Engineered, mixed, and co-produced by Rob Fillmore at the Cutting Room Studios in New York on June 14, 2006 (3, 4, 8, 11, 13), and Mission Sound Recording in Brooklyn on April 29, 2007 (1, 2, 5-7, 9, 10, 12). Mastered by Kevin Reeves at Universal Mastering Studios-East. Photography by Rob Mizell. Design by Philip Manning.
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