Mizell Madness

I'd been looking forward to Riz Rollins' in-depth profile of Larry Mizell, Jr. and his family's generations-deep history in popular music since he pitched the idea months ago. No surprise Riz nailed it: the definitive story of one of music's greatest legacies and its personal, often difficult impact on one of Seattle's brightest musical minds.

Now I'm looking foward to Riz's upcoming all-Mizell edition of "Expansions," his longrunning show on KEXP, this Sunday night. Knowing Riz's cosmic understanding of the musical universe, I was curious about exactly what he'll be playing. We spoke on the phone briefly before he headed to Frank's, the new BBQ joint in the CD. In about five minutes, he unloaded a stunning array of selections and connections, all stemming from the soulful, bountiful work of the Family Mizell. 

City Arts: What'cha gonna play?
Riz Rollins: Everything. I've been working on it for a while. I don’t mind saying I'm nervous about it but there's a lot of Mizell in the word and a lot of connections to it. You'll hear old school and new school and if I can fit in Ronnettes and Fats Waller I will.

Theo Parrish did a tune called "Untitled" and another ["Sketches"] with Larry Mizell Sr., so there'll be some techno craziness. Hip-hop, jazz, house, slow jams, fast jams. All in three hours! It’s a lot of ground to cover.

I'm always discovering things. I knew that Naughty by Nature sampled "ABC," that’s a no-brainer, but today I found out the Afros also sampled "ABC" and the Afros were produced by Jam Master Jay, who's Jason Mizell. So there's all that. Not just Larry Jr. and Sr. and Fonce, but they have a cousin named Don who won a Grammy with Ray Charles. And Cindy Mizelle [spelled differently; same family] sings with Louie Vega [and Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones]. Armand Van Helden sampled the Mizells for his house tune "Flowerz" with Roland Clark. It's a whole bunch of shit.

I'm giving it up for today. I've been getting up at 7 AM and listening to tunes. I'm always concerned I don’t have enough to fill three hours but this morning I was like, which version of "Think Twice" should I play? The original, the Madlib, the remix or the Eryka Badu?

That's a Donald Byrd song, right?
It’s a Donald Byrd song. And Madlib did a version of it. And the Mizells redid it for a remix album called Mizell in 2005. Eryka's version is on the World Wide record, the same one she does a version of Sequence's "Ding Dong" [aka "Love of my Life"]. She has a full version of "Think Twice." Roy Hargrove plays trumpet on it instead of Donald.

A lot of stuff I didn't get a chance to ask [Larry Mizell, Sr.] about. I knew Eryka had done "Think Twice" but on Mama's Gun on the end of "Time's Awastin'" is a Mizell sample. I'm gonna segue into the original of that. Both of those were produced by Dilla. I didn’t get a chance to ask about Dilla. They worked with Madlib, Senior did, I think. Dilla I don’t know.

I'm so glad you wrote this story, Riz. You were the guy to do it. You have a real connection to Larry and he wouldn't have told all this stuff to just anyone. 
The Marvin Gaye stuff trips me out. Because it's kinda messy to be honest because [Larry, Jr.'s] dad worked with Marvin and at the same time his mom had an affair with Marvin. I'm not sure how those things came together but they did.

And that’s all I got to say! My ride is here. 

Tune into KEXP 91.3 FM this Sunday, August 14 at 9 PM to hear Riz Rollins' three-hour Mizell family tribute. 

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