Jazz Activities
(if you're looking for music a little more out click here)

Mike Cassells Group
Cassells & Kenemy 
NoiZe Control
Critical Reviews
Other Recordings
Misc. Recordings

  Mike Cassells Group

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The Mike Cassells Group
Mike Cassells Group (bNm 6549)

This first release from the Mike Cassells Group in 1998 follows a more acoustic path than the music of NoiZe ConTrol. Featured prominently throughout the disc is NYC saxophonist Andrew Rathbun.

The disc highlights crisp ensemble playing and fiery solos from Andrew Rathbun (saxophones), Clyde Forsberg (flugelhorn), Dave Barton (guitar), Jason Kenemy (piano), Artie Roth (bass) and Mike Cassells (drums).


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The Mike Cassells Group
Semi Suite (bNm 14788)

The second release by the Mike Cassells Group is the stunning Semi Suite. Released in 1999 the suite features five of Mikes engaging compositions linked by solo playing by all four members of the group resulting in over 60 minutes of uninterrupted music.

The disc features mesmerizing performances by John Geggie (bass), Jason Kenemy (piano), Dave Barton (guitar) and Mike Cassells (drums).

  In the winter of 1997 NoiZe ConTrol was put to rest and the Mike Cassells Group was born. “NoiZe ConTrol was just too hard to book. People just didn’t seem ready for this music”, recalls Mike. “It was at this time that I was becoming interested in writing more harmonically complex music. The move to a piano based group facilitated this”.

To date the group has two excellent releases on bNm. The self titled debut features a cross section of musicians. Some had been involved with various incarnations of NoiZe ConTrol, others not. The resulting disc is a shining example of what contemporary jazz can be.

The second release by the Mike Cassells Group is Semi Suite. “This recording is a very satisfying one” says Mike. “The group had been gigging for a year before we recorded and you can hear a deep level of interaction and communication”. Indeed. The listener is taken on a wonderful journey during the course of Semi Suite.

  Cassells & Kenemy

Mike Cassells / Jason Kenemy
Simply Put, Put Simply (bNm 14789)

On a scorching hot August day in 1999 Mike Cassells and Jason Kenemy went into the studio and laid down an inspired set of cool duet improvisations.

The result is a disc full of surprises and thoughtful playing.

Mike Cassells / Jason Kenemy
Music For Piano And Drums, Vol. 1 (bNm 14790)

Recorded December 18, 1999 Music For Piano And Drums, Vol. 1 continues to blaze new trails.

  “Jason and I have been playing together for a number of years now. We appear to be on the same wavelength so it seemed natural for us to play duets” recalls Mike. “We really just set the stuff up and hit record on the tape machine. We had no preconceived notion of what might happen. Needless to say, we were thrilled with the results”.

Simply Put, Put Simply features a composition from both Mike and Jason and six improvisations. MFPAD, vol. 1 features purely spontaneous music.

  NoiZe ConTrol

NoiZe ConTrol
Not Your Father's Jazz (nccd 01)

Formed in the spring of 1996 NoiZe ConTrol was a melting pot of jazz sub-genres. Drawing on influences such as Miles Davis, Kenny Wheeler and Bill Frisell the band was an interesting mixture of styles. While definitely a jazz group, NoiZe ConTrol were not afraid to stretch the boundaries of the genre.

    nzcntrl featured Clyde Forsberg on flugelhorn/trumpet, Richard Zanibbi on guitar, Scot Mulligan on bass and Mike Cassells on drums.

  The critically acclaimed NoiZe ConTrol first came to prominence in the fall of 1996 playing all original compositions by drummer and band leader Mike Cassells.

The music written by Mike and performed by the group is steeped in the jazz tradition but also includes European classical music influences. Like many of his fellow Canadian jazz musicians Mike has been influenced by the music of Kenny Wheeler and has benefited by performing with him.

A second nzcntrl disc, "... so much for the jazz scene" was recorded but never released. It featured the addition of Dave Barton on guitar.
  Critical Reviews

"NoiZe ConTrol are a slick outfit specializing in post-Metheny fusion. Forsberg recalls Chet Baker in the lyrical flair of performances like "the lion's den", "3 drowning lisa's" and "mr. tater head".
                                                                                    David Lewis, Cadence Magazine, November 1997

"Mike is a talented composer and band leader, with his own group. His self produced CD demonstrates Mike's creativity both on and off the drums."
                                                                                    Modern Drummer, August 1997

"It's a daunting challenge to create modern jazz with popular appeal, but it's one that Cassells and his year-old his quartet have taken on in their debut compact disc...with compositions that are rife with seamless group interplay and outstanding individual performances."
                                                                                   Alec Ross, Kingston Whig Standard, January 1997

"The music is mellow and dark, wonderfully atmospheric and very offbeat. The bands success undoubtedly lies in its mix of new electric music combined with more traditional jazz. The result is extremely appealing music."
                                                                                     Nikki Shaver, Queen's Journal, March 1998
"Kingston, Ontario's Mike Cassells plays a fluid, dreamy drumset, rarely loud, though always probing ... He drums, he writes! Cassells' compositions are exquisite."
                                                                                     T. Bruce Wittet, Drums etc., November.December 1999

"If you had the opportunity to sit and chat with Mike Cassells you would appreciate very early on in the conversation that he is somewhat understated - he exhibits a quality of 'less-is-more'. He carries this trait on into his music in Semi Suite where his six original compositions move us, sometimes imperceptibly and other times at pace, through various life experiences.

His music is sensual and spacious, delicate and thought provoking. This is all true until Roving Teenage Gangs when Cassells creates the high tension necessary to convey his view of this harsh reality. This is an extraordinary piece that doesn't release until the very end with a brief aftermath (and excellent interpretation) by guitarist Dave Barton.

Barton and pianist Jason Kenemy follow up Roving Teenage Gangs with When The Angels Fall, a masterful rationalization of the previous conflict. These two pieces are worth the price of the album.

And it is Cassells, the drummer and writer, who interprets his role with the least bravado, choosing instead to add elegance and sensitive touch to his work ... Semi Suite is a listeners delight."
                                                                                      Tom Joseph, CD Reviews, Quartet, March 2000

  Other Recordings I've Played On

Greg Runions Big Band "Sweet Home Suite"
Greg Runions Group "But Not Forgotten"
Jon Coakley and One Metric Tonne "Hair Like Roots"
Grant Heckman "From Saints' Rest"
David Archibald "Spirit Of The Inland Sea"
Queen's Alumni Big Band "Oilthigh: The Spirit Of Queen's"
New Digs "From The Floor"

Live ElectroAcoustic Research Kitchen (leark) "distortion is: intentional"
Live ElectroAcoustic Research Kitchen (leark) "kmp-()h-z1-5hu|\|" (composition)
Sue Graff "A Heart Lost In Jazz"

  Misc. Recordings Not Mass Produced

Mike Cassells Trio "CBC Recordings"
This was a session recorded in Ottawa in March of 2000 for the CBC. For whatever reason it never made it to air which is a shame because the group sounds very good. The recording features Jason Kenemy on piano (sometimes in tune - is it too much to ask to tune the damn piano!?!), John Geggie on acoustic bass and Mike Cassells on drums.
Tunes range from Mike's originals to a couple of standards (!) to some free playing. Production quality is quite good (out of tune piano aside) and the recording runs over 60 minutes.

Dave Barton Trio "Kingston Sessions"
This was a session I recorded in Kingston just after Christmas 2001. It features Dave Barton on guitar, John Geggie on bass and Mike Cassells on drums. Each group member submitted a tune and the session is rounded out with some standards. The recording quality is quite good considering what I was dealing with - it was recorded directly to DAT. This session quietly burns.

"From The Vault"
Currently sitting at 30 discs "From The Vault" represents a concerted effort to archive live and session recordings from the past. Most of the original recordings were done on MiniDisc and then transferred to the Macintosh (G4 btw). Lately I've been digging up old cassette recordings and transferring those.

you can send me email at: mcassells1 (at) sympatico.ca