For immediate release
The Des Moines Register has called Hazell "a legend in Iowa Music," and is referred to by many as the "Godfather of Iowa Blues." On December 17, 2000, he was inducted into the IOWA BLUES HALL OF FAME, and in 2007 was inducted into the IOWA MUSIC ASSOCIATION ROCK N ROLL HALL OF FAME. An official endorsee of Hohner Harmonicas, he is considered by many to be one of the finest and most creative harmonica players in the music world.
As a performer, he can fill up a large hall with up-tempo dance music, or he can create an intimate small-club atmosphere with jazz-inflected ballads, blues, and impressionistic instrumentals. His wide repertoire includes rhythm and blues standards, as well as many original compositions delivered with a spontaneous performance suited to each particular setting, be it a concert, back-country roadhouse, Mississippi River beach party, wedding dance, school assembly, or downtown blues club. Hazell gets the sound of a full band by accompanying his vocals with keyboards, foot-powered percussion, and harmonica - all at the same time. But, as one reviewer put it, "Don't call Hazell a novelty act... he's a full-blown, throttle-open blues experience."
Hazell taught himself to play boogie-woogie piano at age eleven in 1956., and then commenced his professional career in 1960, playing piano in a three-piece band in Burlington, Iowa. In 1968, he established the Mother Blues Band in Iowa City, and through the 1970's and early 1980's, the band toured extensively in the Midwest as it achieved what is widely regarded as a legendary status in the region.
In 1983, Hazell decided a change was needed, and he launched a career as a solo performer by creating a "one-man-band" equipment set-up upon which he continues to stretch and develop his original style of music. Though he still plays with a band on occasion, he typically tours as a soloist. This format has allowed him to expand his music into areas outside the Midwest. For example in 1986, he went on his first musical tour in Europe and continues to tour there on a regular basis. In January 1999, he performed in Asuncion, Paraguay to sold-out audiences, returned in April 2000, and again in November 2005. In November, 2003, he toured in Russia, performing in Moscow and the capitol of the Udmurt Republic, Izhevsk, where he presented concerts, music masterclasses, and lectures on various aspects of midwestern American culture.
In June, 2004, he returned to present the Izhevsk Bell Project, which was a 45 minute composition employing the bells in the towers of two Russian Orthodox churches and an 18th Century armaments factory. The Bell Projects are an original concept of Hazell's, the first of which he produced in Burlington, Iowa, in which he composed an hour-long bell ring utilizing the bells of nine churches and the fire station within the center of town. As of 2007, he has staged 13 different Bell Projects--each unique. The Hawkeye Valley Bell Project staged in Burlington on September 25, 2005, was video-taped and broadcast state-wide in November 2005, on Iowa Public Television as part of their famous Living In Iowa series.
In addition to exposure from his live performances, many of his recordings (36 of his own albums as of 2007) have had significant airplay, both regionally and nationally, and he has been the subject of numerous news articles and television-radio broadcasts throughout his career.
As an educator Hazell presents his music while dealing with such topics as songwriting, improvisation, and the elements of jazz and blues music. In this capacity, he was an instructor in a special music class at Washington (Iowa) High School from 1987 to 1995. Entitled Advanced Instrumental Music, the class was spotlighted by Iowa Public Television (Living in Iowa, December 25, 1992) for its innovative approach to music education, allowing the students to create and perform their own music. He has also been involved in numerous blue-in-the-schools programs.
Hazell is affiliated with Broadcast Musicians Incorporated (BMI), The National Academy of The Recording Arts, Arts Midwest, a member of the 1990 Touring Arts Team of Iowa, and is listed in the Iowa Arts Council's Arts In Education and the Performing Artists Touring Rosters.