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Cameron Mizell

Brooklyn-based guitarist-composer Cameron Mizell offers something of a mission statement in the liner notes to his fifth and most recent album, Negative Spaces. The liner essay author, one of Mizell’s lifelong friends, recounts a conversation he had with the guitarist, about how it is absence as much as presence that defines music. Mizell explained: “As musicians develop their skills, the focus is on creating sound. Get the note out of the instrument, and then repeat… fill the silence with your sound. But there comes a point where you have to learn not to play. If you play constantly, the most memorable moment of your performance will be the time you didn’t play. An artist understands this and knows how to ‘play’ rests, how to let a musical idea breathe, develop and tell a story.” This ideal underscores the title of Negative Spaces, a trio disc with kindred-spirit keyboardist Brad Whiteley and drummer Kenneth Salters, released in October 2016 by Destiny Records. DownBeat magazine made it an “Editor’s Choice,” praising the album as “a program of painterly originals that uses sparseness and absence in artful, melodic ways.” A review of the disc in All About Jazz concluded that the guitarist “really deserves attention,” while the review in Jazz Trail sums up his music’s allure: “Cameron Mizell doesn’t need words to show he’s a great storyteller.” Mizell, who was born in 1980 and bred in St. Louis, explains the method that makes Negative Spaces different from his previous trio albums: “Previously, I had composed from the groove up, but I wrote the pieces of Negative Spaces from top down as if I were a vocalist, away from my guitar, with pen and paper. I even transcribed singers like Sam Cooke to get into how they phrased a melody. The idea with a lot of improvised music is to see how far out you can get. But with this album, I wanted to rein it in, create singable melodies and allow room for music to happen around them.” Even with its sparer, melody-oriented dynamics, Negative Spaces has a lush overall feel, what Jazz Trail described as “an inviting sound,” with Mizell’s gorgeous guitars – by turns lyrical and textural – complemented by Whiteley’s variety of keyboards: Hammond organ, Wurlitzer, piano, synth bass and Fender Rhodes. On drums, Salters can go from sounding like a full percussion section to adding apposite touches with only brushes. DownBeat appreciated how the album moves from “edge and attitude” to “grace and splendor.”

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”Boasting an inviting sound and evincing a compelling dexterity in his original compositions, Brooklyn-based guitarist Cameron Mizell effortlessly mixes rock, blues, funk, country, Americana, and jazz with ingenuity, building up an inspired album that speaks with a proper voice without shutting up its main influences.” - Filipe Freitas, JazzTrail.net

“His first solo album, a splendid collection of originals titled The Edge Of Visibility, worked well to cut a striking figure for Mizell, effectively separating the guitarist from the pack. With Negative Spaces, his fifth album as a leader, Mizell assumes the role of the altruistic collaborator, rejoining his working trio for a program of painterly originals that uses sparseness and absence in artful, melodic ways.” - Brian Zimmerman, DownBeat Magazine

“The main difference between Mizell and the faceless rabble of other similarly accomplished jazz-rock-blues guitarists is that he's a sharp-minded and witty composer and arranger with a knack for writing gritty, funky tunes with hooky melodies.” - Dave Wayne, All About Jazz

“Mizell superbly presents high technical proficiency, artistry, and melodic skills.” - Jim Olin, All About Jazz

“Combining improvisational jazz with traces of progressive rock and avant-garde experimentalism, Mizell explores the sounds of the dreaming and waking world.” - Stacey Zering, No Depression

“Mizell has a clean, precise tone and a versatility that brings to mind any number of other eclectic guitar slingers like Danny Gatton, Bill Frisell, John Scofield, Link Wray and Joel Harrison

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