Cameron Mizell

New York Guitarist & Composer

Guitarist Cameron Mizell’s music has been described as “skillfully pairing controlled abstraction with Americana roots” and his playing “superbly presents high technical proficiency, artistry, and melodic skills.” His latest solo guitar album, Memory/Imagination, is available on Destiny Records.

Recent Press for The Edge Of Visibility

Here is some of the latest coverage on my The Edge of Visibility. If you haven't picked it up yet, you can get it from Destiny Records or iTunes.

No Depression Review by Stacey Zering

Guitarist Cameron Mizell journeys into the far reaches of the subconscious, weaving a collection of instrumentals that don't allow for easy interpretation but nevertheless conjure spellbinding imagery. Each track on The Edge of Visibility sounds like fragments of memories, cinematic visuals that unreel in the imagination. Combining improvisational jazz with traces of progressive rock and avant-garde experimentalism, Mizell explores the sounds of the dreaming and waking world. The overall effect is both hypnotic and disorienting, and adventurous listeners will feel their minds expanding.

On "A Second Trapeze," Mizell's guitar is mellow and soothing, quite unlike the rough edges that appear elsewhere on the record. It's accessible and pleasantly tuneful, probably the best entryway into Mizell's unique artistry. His playing here is fluid and engaging, and it's well-suited for moody winter evenings.

With the title track, Mizell's sharp ear for chilly atmospherics is keenly felt. Opening with odd effects that would fit perfectly on a Pink Floyd recording, Mizell captures some deeply melancholic tones that illustrate the film noir darkness of a rainy night. "Rooster Tail" is stranger still, echoing an interstellar vibe that gradually returns to Earth with clanging riffs. This is a thought-provoking work, one that lingers in the memory long after it has ceased spinning.


Review & Interview by

An artist who follows his own muse, regardless of commercial appeal: That's not common in the jazz scene these days, where playing it safe is too often the norm. 

Guitarist Cameron Mizell is a much-needed exception, a musician who walks unafraid, daring to let his fingers roam the fringes of his creativity. Mizell's latest album, The Edge of Visibility, is a collection of improvisational jazz and high-I.Q. tinkering. 

For an album of sonic experimentation, it is also surprisingly melodic and even relaxing to the ears. As the days draw closer to winter, Mizell has produced a record that could prove to be a seasonal favorite. There is an icy quality to many of these tracks but Mizell has a poetic ear for mood and atmosphere. The contemplative "Everyone Has Blind Spots," for example, has the liquid flow of a rainy-day soundtrack. It's not depressing; it's just introspective, music that really triggers pictures in the mind. What Mizell is trying to convey is open to interpretation; repeated listens only open the doors to various explanations. 

"Rooster Tail" is among the highlights as Mizell's guitar has an ominous undertow. Strange effects add to the mystery, and Mizell offers broken pieces of a puzzle that fascinate and stimulate. It's not all dark shadows, though. "Alice" ends the album with a ray of bright light, sparkling like fireworks. (Source)

Q: When did you start playing the guitar.

A: I started taking guitar lessons when I was eight-years-old. My parents understood the importance of music lessons and both my brother and sister played trumpet and piano and some point in their youth. I just happened to be the one to stick with it.

Q: Did you receive any formal training as a guitarist.

A: I studied jazz and classical guitar as an undergrad, first at the University of North Texas, and later transferred to Indiana University. I continue to take lessons every now and again. The formal training never really stops.

Q: When did you become interested in jazz.

A: When I was about 14-years-old, during the early ‘90s, I was really into the rock bands of the time, but also Metallica. At one point I read one of those guitar magazine lessons by Kirk Hammett, the lead guitarist in Metallica, and he talked about the contrasting styles of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. The idea peaked my interest, so I went to the record store and bought a CD with Miles and Coltrane. After that I got a little obsessed, started trading in my ‘90s rock and Metallica CDs so I could buy more jazz albums, and soon started trying to learn how to play the music on the guitar.

Q: What artists have had the greatest impact on you creatively.

A: Well, it'd be a pretty long list if we really got into it. Musically speaking, Miles and Coltrane obviously put me on this path, but as a guitarist I've also spent a lot of time listening to Wes Montgomery, Grant Green, John Scofield, Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot, and recently I've been listening to David Torn's latest album, Only Sky. 

Along with taking music lessons when I was younger, I took dance lessons and loved to draw. Watching a Nicholas Brothers tap routine, or absorbing works by Picasso or Van Gogh, for example, have always been very inspiring.

Q: What is it about improvisational jazz that appeals to you the most.

A: Initially I was drawn to the idea that a jazz musician could play "Stella By Starlight" every day, every day it could be different, and every day it could be right. As my experience has grown, though, I understand jazz more as a process than a particular style. I mean, does jazz have to be improvised? Does improvised music have to be jazz? Either, or maybe both, are ways in which musicians explore the possibilities of music. 

I also love to compose, and improvising is simply composition in real time. It's also a way of hearing and understanding music, and it has certainly helped me quickly adapt to different genres and simply make a living as a guitarist.

Q: How would you say your music has evolved over the years.

A: Honestly, I think it's just evolved with me, as a person trying to figure out life. I recorded my last album, Tributary, when I was in my late 20s. After I turned 30 I kind of stopped worrying what other people thought of me. I didn't feel like I needed to prove anything. I'm never going to be the best guitar player in the world, and to be completely honest, I don't think I even like the kind of music made by "the best" players. Or to be more accurate, I prefer music that is intentional. Music that is art first, where the technicalities of executing those sounds take a back seat to, and only exist to serve, the emotional impact of the music. 

With that realization I've been doing more writing without the guitar. Just a pad of paper and some simple idea in my head, expand it, then erase a bunch, and see where we end up. I also adjusted my practice routine to involve more free improvisation. Both exercises are very personal, meditative, and help me feel more connected and honest about my music.