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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 the IOWA MUSIC ASSOCIATION ROCK'N'ROLL
HALL OF FAME in 2007. 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, 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 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 addition to exposure from his live performances, many of his 36 recordings 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.
In 1983, Hazell launched a career as a solo performer as a "one-man-band" This format has allowed him to expand his music into areas outside of his midwestern area. For example in 1986, he went on his first musical tour in Europe and continues to tour there on a regular basis. Since 1999, he has added South America and Russia to his international touring.
Since November, 2003, in collaboration with the famous Udmurtian folk singers, Nadezhda Utkina, and Sergey Kungurov, he has performed in Moscow as well as the capitol of the Russian Republic of Udmurtia, Izhevsk, where he presented concerts, music master classes, and lectures on various aspects of Midwestern American culture.
One of the highlights was composing and producing with Mr.Kungurov and Ms.Utkina the Izh Valley Bell Project. The large bells in three major sites (two Orthodox Churches and the Izhmash Armaments Factory) were rung in various patterns for forty five minutes during the Russian Independence Celebration on June 11, 2004. The event was broadcast on Moscow television and gained exposure throughout the former Soviet nations.
The Bell Projects are Hazell's invention. He has composed and produced thirteen of them since February 2, 2003, twelve in the United States in addition to the one in Izhevsk. His Hawkeye Valley Bell Project produced in Burlington, Iowa, September 24, 2005, was televised by Iowa Public Television for a program aired throughout Iowa in November of that year.
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.
Hazell is affiliated with Broadcast Musicians Incorporated (BMI), The National Academy of The Recording Arts (GRAMMYS), 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.