June 22, 2024


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An interview with Cameron Mizell: It’s important that we stay honest in the music we create … Video

Jazz interview with jazz guitarist Cameron Mizell. An interview by email in writing.

JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Cameron Mizell: – I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and have really been around music in some capacity my whole life. My mom was a dance teacher and put me and my brother and sister in dance class when we were three years old. As soon as we were able, we began taking music lessons.

JBN.S: – What got you interested in picking up the guitar?

CM: – Mom had her old guitar in the house and I’d pull it out and try to play every now and then. When I was in third grade (about eight years old) all the students had the option to learn violin in school. I wasn’t interested in being in a room full of 80 kids trying to play violin, so I started taking private guitar lessons instead.

JBN.S: – What teacher or teachers helped you progress to the level of playing you have today?

CM: – I’ve had my share of excellent guitar teachers over the years, but the people I learn from the most are my friends who are also great guitarists. Getting together to play, share ideas, and talk about our approaches to the instrument has been the most applicable form of study, next to transcribing.

JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?

CM: – When I really started focusing on my sound I was playing jazz, guitar straight into the amp, and trying to make it sound more like a saxophone and less like a guitar. Fat, sustained tone with a lot of weight behind each note. Later I kind of remembered that I like the way guitar sounds, too, and got back to the techniques and playing style that makes guitar unique.

I don’t really think I’ve found “my” sound yet. I’m still hearing other musicians’ tone in my head and trying to emulate that, depending on the musical situation. There’s a saying that goes something like, “Borrow from one person, it’s plagiarism. Borrow from many, it’s influence.” Maybe if I keep trying to emulate enough other people at the same time it’ll just start to sound like myself.

JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?

CM: – I always use a metronome when I practice, and I’ll try to change up the placement of the click. It’s tricky at first, but it not only helps you keep better time, it also presents accents in different places that can inspire new ideas.

JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now?

CM: – It depends on what the situation calls for or how I’m feeling. When I’m improvising freely, one of the things I like to do lately is focus on two triads that don’t share a major scale and explore their relationships. I sort of stumbled upon what I later learned to be called the Double Harmonic Major scale. That’s a fun harmonic pattern to work with.

JBN.S: – Many aspiring musicians are always looking for advice when navigating thru the music business. Is there any piece of advice you can offer to aspiring students or even your peers that you believe will help them succeed and stay positive in this business?

CM: – Right now, more than ever, I think it’s important that we stay honest in the music we create. Try to make music that comes from your deepest self, because that’s what’ll connect with others. If you focus on anything else, you’ll be disappointed.

JBN.S: – Аnd furthermore, can jazz be a business today or someday?

CM: – I think jazz is very much a business today. It’s a small business, just like it’s always been, but the people who enjoy jazz music are either other musicians who will really get into what you’re doing, or adults with expendable income. The music hasn’t been in style for generations, so we don’t need to worry about it going out of style, we just have to keep pushing forward and making it interesting.

JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?

CM: – Bill Evans once said jazz is not really a genre, but a process. We can apply that process to anything, not just standards. The reason standards work is that they have melodies and harmonies that facilitate improvisation and reharmonization. Most of them weren’t written for that purpose, but jazz musicians adapted them for their repertoire and eventually they became standards. There are plenty of songs like that being written like this, within jazz, but also other styles of music.

Of course, standards are still great songs and important to learn. I haven’t really run into any young people that dislike jazz because they can’t stand Jerome Kern. People get turned off of jazz for many reasons, I imagine, but “old songs” is probably pretty far down that list.

JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?

CM: – Oh man, I have no idea. I just try to be a good person. Our time on this earth is pretty limited, and the best thing we can do, I think, is make life a little better for the people around us. I try to do everything with honest intentions, and hope the results reflect that attitude.

JBN.S: – What are your expectations of the future? What brings you fear or anxiety?

CM: – The world is in a very precarious position right now, and it worries me. I visited the Whitney Museum recently and saw their exhibit on protest art. On one hand it was inspiring to see artists creating a space for dialogue around various social issues. On the other hand, maybe nothing has changed and it’s always been this bad. I just want to see more compassion and less divisiveness in the world.

JBN.S: – What’s the next musical frontier for you?

CM: – Writing for strings! I’ve been doing some studying but haven’t had time to write much just yet. But soon!

JBN.S: – Are there any similarities between jazz and world music, including folk music?

CM: – Yes, of course. In a lot of ways all music is folk music. Some genres organize the notes differently, or come from a different aesthetic, but at the core it share the common goal of eliciting an emotional reaction from the listener. It seems to me that jazz musicians have always drawn inspiration from all sorts of genres, it just happens that their process of creating music results in what we label “jazz” but really, it’s just their own sort of folk music.

JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?

CM: – I listen to music all the time, so this changes drastically week to week. Very recently I’ve been enjoying Andrew Bird’s latest album, Echolocations: River. I’ve also had albums by Mary Halverson, Cuong Vu 4-Tet, and St. Vincent in circulation lately. We’ll see what this next week brings!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Картинки по запросу Cameron Mizell

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