Jump to content

Mizell Brothers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Mizell Brothers were an American record producing team in the 1970s, consisting of Larry Mizell (born February 17, 1944) and Alphonso "Fonce" Mizell (January 15, 1943 – July 5, 2011).[1][2] They worked together on a string of jazz fusion, crossover jazz, soul, R&B and disco records.


Larry earned a degree in engineering and Fonce Mizell earned a degree in music from Howard University. While there they formed and performed in a jazz vocal quartet, the Vanlords. In the early 1970s, Larry and Fonce Mizell moved to California to start their own company, Sky High Productions. They went on to produce albums for Blue Note Records that set the tone for jazz fusion and the era. They produced Johnny Hammond Smith, Roger Glenn, The Blackbyrds, and Donald Byrd.[3] The Mizell Brothers often used the same musicians on their albums, including Harvey Mason on drums, Mayuto Correa on percussion, Melvin "Wah Wah Watson" Ragin and David T. Walker on guitar, Chuck Rainey on bass and Jerry Peters on piano. Freddie Perren and Chuck Davis were sometimes involved as co-writers or co-producers.

Later hits of Sky High Productions include A Taste of Honey's platinum-selling roller-rink anthem of 1978 "Boogie Oogie Oogie", L.T.D.'s "Love Ballad", a number 1 R&B hit (#20 pop) in 1976, and Mary Wells' funky disco 12-inch "Gigolo" in 1982. Younger brother Rodney Mizell co-wrote some of their songs, although most material initially was written by Larry Mizell, later joined by Fonce. They also included a number of Motown hits on Donald Byrd's albums including Just My Imagination and Dancing in the Street. In the 1980s, the Mizell brothers retired from the record industry, but returned in the 2000s. Larry Mizell wrote and performed vocals on the song "Play with the Changes" on the 4hero album of the same name in 2007.[4]


As an electrical engineer, Larry Mizell performed testing and reliability work on the Lunar Module for the NASA Apollo program.[5] He was one of the first to do research on liquid crystals, which today are used in displays (LCD).[citation needed]


Alphonso Mizell was a member of The Corporation, the Motown hit-making production team that wrote and produced all of The Jackson 5's early hits from 1969 through 1971, including "I Want You Back," "ABC," "The Love You Save," "Mama's Pearl," and "Maybe Tomorrow." The Corporation also consisted of Motown founder Berry Gordy plus writer-producers Deke Richards, who brought Fonce to the company, and Freddie Perren, a classmate of the Mizells at Howard who also later worked for Sky High Productions.

When Motown moved to Los Angeles, the Mizells joined up with trumpet player Donald Byrd under whom they had studied while at Howard University. Their first album, Black Byrd on the Blue Note label, was the first of a string of albums together that would define jazz-funk and lay the foundation for acid jazz and neo soul. Alphonso died of heart failure on July 5, 2011 at age 68.[2]

Personal life[edit]

According to Larry Mizell's son, Larry Mizell Jr., the Mizell Brothers are cousins to Run-DMC member Jam Master Jay as well as Ronnie Spector, Estelle Bennett and Nedra Talley of the 1960s girl group The Ronettes and related to songwriter Andy Razaf.[6]


Year Artist Album Label Tracks Produced
1972 Donald Byrd Black Byrd Blue Note Records Entire Album
1973 Donald Byrd Street Lady Blue Note Entire Album
Bobbi Humphrey Blacks and Blues Blue Note Entire Album
The Miracles Renaissance Motown Records Wigs And Lashes & Don't Let It End ('Til You Let It Begin) (Co-Produced with Freddie Perren)
The Jackson 5 Skywriter Motown Hallelujah Day & Ooh, I'd Love To Be With You (Co-Produced with Freddie Perren)
Michael Jackson Music & Me Motown With A Child's Heart & Up Again (Co-Produced with Freddie Perren)
Jermaine Jackson Come Into My Life Motown You're In Good Hands (Co-Produced with Freddie Perren)
Elaine Brown Elaine Brown Black Forum Entire Album (Fonce Mizell only, Co-Produced with Freddie Perren)
1974 Donald Byrd Stepping into Tomorrow Blue Note Entire Album
Bobbi Humphrey Satin Doll Blue Note Entire Album
The Blackbyrds The Blackbyrds Fantasy Records Entire Album
Johnny Hammond Gambler's Life Salvation Records Entire Album
Edwin Starr Hell Up in Harlem Motown Entire Album (Co-Produced with Freddie Perren)
Brenda Lee Eager "When I'm With You" Mercury Records When I'm With You (7" Single)
Margie Evans "Waterfalls" Buddah Records Waterfalls (7" Single)
1975 Donald Byrd Places and Spaces Blue Note Entire Album
Bobbi Humphrey Fancy Dancer Blue Note Entire Album
Johnny Hammond Gears Milestone Records Entire Album
Gary Bartz The Shadow Do Prestige Records Entire Album
Michael Jackson Forever, Michael Motown I'll Come Home To You (Co-Produced with Freddie Perren)
1976 Donald Byrd Caricatures Blue Note Entire Album
L.T.D. Love To The World A&M Records Entire Album
Roger Glenn Reachin' Fantasy Entire Album
1977 Gary Bartz Music Is My Sanctuary Capitol Records Entire Album
The Rance Allen Group Say My Friend Capitol Entire Album
1978 A Taste of Honey A Taste Of Honey Capitol Entire Album
1979 A Taste of Honey Another Taste Capitol Entire Album
1981 Mary Wells In And Out Of Love Epic Records Gigolo


  1. ^ allmusic ((( The Mizell Brothers - Biography )))
  2. ^ a b Morris, Christopher (July 12, 2011). "Producer Alphonso 'Fonce' Mizell dies". .variety.com. Retrieved July 17, 2011.
  3. ^ The Mizell Brothers Allmusic Retirved 23 February 2024
  4. ^ Mayuto Correa credits on AllMusic
  5. ^ "Fireside Chat: Larry Mizell". redbullradio.com. Red Bull. Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  6. ^ Rollins, Riz (July 25, 2016). "Roots and Branches". cityartsmagazine.com. Encore Media Group. Retrieved February 18, 2018.

External links[edit]