Classy and uptown soft swing and soul is delivered by vocalist Hazel Mitchell-Bell as she gives tribute to all of the right inspirations on this recent album. She has a patient and relaxed delivery, sort of like a nuanced Nancy Wilson, but she shows that she can also burn the embers hot, getting swampy on Nina Simone’s “Do I Move You” with guitarist Alvin White. The core team of Vice Evans/p-key, JC Jefferson Jr/dr, James B. King Jr/b, Kenny Rittenhouse/tp and Craig Alston/sax help set moods ranging from a soft and bluesy title tune to a sweet and samba’d take of “Where Is Love”. Mitchell-Bell shows her church roots as she melds Sunday morning, street soul and jazz to Jefferson’s cadence on “Hurry Up This Way Again” with aplomb, while she testifies to Aretha Franklin’s “Spirit In The Dark”. She shows how to get cozy with a lyric with Evans and King on “When Did You Leave Heaven” while shining like a disco ball on the soulful “What I Did For Love” and glowing like a candle with string support for the personal “Dance With My Father” and “Meet Me on The Moon”. This lady sings like she has nothing to prove, thereby proving a lot.
- George W. Harris, Jazz Weekly
If there’s something in the water, Mitchell-Bell has been wetting her whistle at the same fountain as Amber Weekes and Nnenna Freelon have been lately. Running the jazz/soul/blues gamut on a well broken in set of tunes from across the ages while making them all her own, this is top shelf jazz vocal, with a top shelf crew in tow. Solid. (Jazz Beyond Borders)
– Chris Spector, Midwest Record
2021 Reviews for Sack Full of Dreams
Mitchell-Bell has a voice which is fresh and compelling and gripping. A fresh voice to enjoy.
– Robert Rusch, Cadence Magazine
A superior voice. I mean very easy, without strain, and sounding like she could sing all day long if necessary. Stylistically the thirteen tracks are covers of timeless classics from the Great American Songbook. Backed by an eleven piece orchestra, Mitchell-Bell never seems overshadowed by the musicians. She holds her own with style and grace and the music flows along. Sit and enjoy a superior vocalist who can easily, very easily in fact, deliver the goods.
– Paul Wilson, Audiophile Audition
The first from the powerhouse singer Hazel Mitchell-Bell. Still, Mitchell-Bell is not new to jazz, or other genres, for that matter. The album brims with vitality, class and an overall musicality from the first track to the last. “Stronger Than Ever” is the kind of album that makes audiences wish there were more recordings by the performer that they could get their hands on immediately.
– Dodie Miller Gould, Lemon Wire
She's a classic jazz thrush all the way. With a tight band that knows the ropes providing the setting, this isn't nostalgia, it's a classic sound on a classic date. Well done.
– Chris Spector, Midwest Record
Backed by an all star band led by Vince Evans, Stronger Than Ever introduces a new voice to the world of jazz. But make no mistake, it is a voice to be reckoned with.
Dr. Nick, WPFW-FM, 89.3, Washington, D.C.
Hazel Mitchell reveals a beautiful, sensitive and warm voice that pays tribute to some great jazz classics.
– François Becquart Aucun, Music in Belgium
Hazel Mitchell reveals a beautiful, sensitive and warm voice that pays tribute to some great jazz classics, such as "For Women," a hit by Nina Simone, the swinging swing of "Let There Be Love" (song written in 1940 but popularized by Nat King Cole in 1961) or Autumn Leaves," which is an English translation of the famous song "Les Feuilles Mortes' by Prévert and Kosma. France is still in the spotlight with the resumption of the eternal "What Is Left of Our Love?" Charles Trenet, known in English as "I Wish You Love." "Everything Must Change” is a song that appeared on Randy Crawford’s first album in 1976, written by Bernard Ighner. The beautiful interpretation presented by Hazel Mitchell-Bell is an opportunity to rediscover this beautiful song. Same silky and romantic atmosphere for “Feel Like Making Love,” originally played by Roberta Flack in the 70’s. We stay in timeless jazz with “Willow Weep For Me,” a song dating back to the 1930s and which has also had many interpretations (George Benson, Frank Sinatra, Sam Cooke, Art Tatum . . .)
We could also mention “Skylark” (Bing Crosby), “One Note Samba” (Joao Gilberto), “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (Peggy Seeger, then Roberta Flack), “The Makings of You” (Curtis Mayfield) or “Louisiana Sunday Afternoon” (Diana Ross) to have a full view of the very interesting and captivating choice of these selections in which Hazel Mitchell-Bell transitions completely at ease. The musicians who accompany her are also an important element for the construction of this quality album that will delight lovers of classical and satin jazz.
Il n’est jamais trop tard pour bien débuter. La chevelure blanche et le look de vénérable douairière d’Hazel Mitchell-Bell montrent que cette dame n’est pas née de la dernière pluie. Mais c’est pourtant un premier album qu’elle défend ici, avec un ʺStronger Than Everʺ qui visite quelques standards du répertoire classique américain du jazz, de la soul ou de rhythm ‘n blues. Oui, pour visiter l’univers musical d’Hazel Mitchell-Bell, ce sera donc tenue de soirée, boutons de manchettes, champagne millésimé et club feutré.
Michael Doherty’s Music Log
On her new album, Stronger Than Ever, vocalist Hazel Mitchell-Bell delivers some passionate and moving renditions of classic material, including songs by Nina Simone, Ann Ronell and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Joining her on this release are Craig Alston on saxophone and flute, Vince Evans on piano and keyboards, Robert Fiester on guitar, James B. King Jr. on bass, J.C. Jefferson Jr. on drums, Asali Ruth McIntyre on violin, Bonnie Grier on violin, Gerard Battle on viola, Denna Purdie on cello, Chris Barrick on vibraphones, and Kim Sator-Randolph on harp. Read more
George W. Harris, Jazz Weekly
I’ve never heard any material from Hazel Mitchell-Bell, probably due to the fact that she’s based in Washington DC, but this album is impressive as she mixes jazz with soul and R&B, showing she knows how to work a room. She’s supported by Craig Alston/sax-fl, Vince Evans/p-key, Robert Fiester/g, James B. King Jr/f, JC Jefferson Jr/dr and a stringquartet on this wide ranging session. She shows how to get swampy as she works a sweat on “Rio De Janeiro Blue” and swings like a tetherball with Evans on “Let There Be Love.” She’s bold and defiant with organ on “Willow Weep For Me” and bohemian blue as Jefferson supplies moody mallets for a wistful “Autumn Leaves.” Alston’s tenor adds to the richness of an assured “Everything Must Change” and her take of Nina Simone’s “Four Women” is husky and evocative without being preachy. Classy and timeless in both material and delivery.
Paul Wilson, Audiophile
On her new album, Stronger Than Ever, vocalist Hazel Mitchell- Bell delivers some passionate and moving renditions of classic material, including songs by Nina Simone, Ann Ronell and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Joining her on this release are Craig Alston on saxophone and flute, Vince Evans on piano and keyboards, Robert Fiester on guitar, James B. King Jr. on bass, J.C. Jefferson Jr. on drums, Asali Ruth McIntyre on violin, Bonnie Grier on violin, Gerard Battle on viola, Denna Purdie on cello, Chris Barrick on vibraphones, and Kim Sator-Randolph on harp.
Based on several recent releases, the Washington D.C. jazz scene if full of talent and thriving. Just last week we reviewed saxophonist Jordon Dixon. Recently this writer also was moved by D.C.’s Coniece Washington’s tribute to her idol, Shirley Horn, on Shades of Shirley Horn. Key to that album as well as this outstanding debut from vocalist Hazel Mitchell-Bell is pianist and arranger Vince Evans. Mitchell-Bell is a veteran singer, equally comfortable in jazz, soul, R&B and probably other formats too. Her range is impressive, sometimes moving from alto to soprano in the same song. Her intonation and phrasing are right on and she draws that ever sensitive line between being both sultry and classy. And, she has courage. Not many would choose to cover Nina Simone let alone open an album with Nina’s provocative “Four Women” as Mitchell-Bell does here on this rather unique concept of marrying Soul and R&B hits with those of the Great American Songbook. . . . Hazel Mitchell-Bell is one of the most impressive vocalists to enter this incredibly competitive arena of jazz vocalists. Already she stands near the top. This is highly recommended. You will listen repeatedly. Read more
2019 Reviews for Stronger Than Ever