|This exclusive interview for PlayJazzGuitar.com
took place December 2012.
you seem very young to be playing with such an advanced harmonic
vocabulary and maturity. How old were you when you first picked
up the instrument and when did you get really serious about it?
got my first guitar when I was ten. I grew up listening to my mom
playing organ in the house. So I was really into music before I
got a guitar. I got serious about playing guitar once I heard Eddie
Van Halen who was my inspiration at the time.
you study classical guitar at all? If so what do you think specifically
about that might have helped your jazz playing?
I took classical guitar lessons for two years when I was going
to the University of North Texas. Before that, my guitar teacher
Alex Rogowski, a great guitarist from Detroit, introduced me to
a lot of recorded classical guitar and showed me some things about
finger style playing. I learned about touch and how to vary dynamics
on the instrument from listening and playing classical pieces.
This translated directly to everything that I do on the guitar.
technical aspects of the guitar gave you the most problem, if
any, in your formative years? How did you overcome them?
Right hand picking gave me the most difficulty, which is probably
why I developed a hybrid approach to picking that I had to figure
out with trial and error. I was hearing a lot of things in my
head that I could not play with just a guitar pick so I developed
an entire technique for myself that would allow me to play what
I was hearing. What seemed like a technical challenge in my formative
years ultimately resulted in techniques that helped form my sound.
musicians have had the most impact on your guitar playing throughout
your life and why?
I think in some way every musician I have heard has had an impact
on my playing. As far as guitarists go, Eddie Van Halen got me
interested in the guitar. He had an amazing sound, great phrasing
and incredible groove. I listened to Eric Johnson, who I admired
for his touch on the instrument and beautiful chord voicings.
Everything that Ted Greene ever played was something special.
Allan Holdsworth showed me that the guitar has no limits and I
carry that ideal with me. Pat Methenys playing was so inspiring
on all levels. Scott Henderson inspired me to play with a great
sound. John Scofield was very influencial with regards to rhythm.
Frank Gambale inspired me to find my own personal techniques for
playing the music that I desire. Mick Goodricks playing
showed me so much about space and expanding my harmonic pallet,
among many other things. Wes Montgomery had everything. There
are so many guitarist that had an impact on me, this is just off
of the top of my head. I wish that I could list them all here,
but I could go on for hours. As far as non guitarists go, Keith
Jarrett was a major influence. His playing is pure art. Chick
Corea amazes me every time. Michael Brecker was a huge influence
on my sound. I listened to all of his records and tried to emulate
his playing on the guitar. John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter and Charlie
Parker were also big influences. I studied with several teachers
along the way that had an impact. They are Alex Rogowski, Fred
Hamilton, George Garzone, Jerry Bergonzi, John Abercrombie, Mick
Goodrick and Gene Bertoncini
there any specific books or educational material that turned your
The best book that I ever read on modern guitar playing is The
Advancing Guitarist by Mick Goodrick. I think my best educational
material is going out to hear live music and listening to recordings.
My dad used to take me to clubs when I was younger. I learned
an incredible amount from being in the room and hearing live music.
musicians and in particular, guitar players, do you like to listen
I like Nelson Veras, James Muller, Wayne Krantz, Allan Holdsworth,
Scott Henderson, Pat Metheny, Mick Goodrick, Ben Monder, Andy
Timmons, and many more. There are many great guitarists, it is
difficult to list everyone.
see you particularly like the trio format, presumably because
without a pianist you are freer with the harmony. Why do you like
this format and do you play in other configurations?
offers a lot of freedom. I can experiment with different sonic
colors with guitar tones in the trio format. I have a vision for
many different types of ensembles but right now I am focusing
on the trio but recently, I have found myself playing more frequently
in a quartet setting. I really enjoyed the ensemble setting when
I played with Paul Motion which featured two guitarists, two bassists,
two saxophonists, piano, violin and, of course, Paul on drums.
That was different than anything that I had done before. I also
enjoy playing quintet with Terri Lyne Carringtons group
with whom I have done quite a bit of touring.
you practice obsessively these days? If so how much time do you
dedicate to it?
I have never practiced obsessively. I practice when I feel like
making music and improving on my playing. My practice time varies
from day to day depending on what is happening in my life. I have
spent a lot of time exploring the guitar. Countless hours trying
to translate what I am hearing in my head to the guitar.
are you practicing right now and why?
I am practicing my time. I am always trying to fine tune my time
accuracy. Also, I am consistently working on my touch the
tone coming from my hands and the overall dynamic contrast. I
am always trying to find new vocabulary whether it be new chord
voicings or ways of creating arpeggios, etc.
you talk a little about your guitar sound? You favour quite a
chamber-like reverb space with a nice amount of delay. Can you
talk about this a little and tell us about that headless guitar
The tone that I use is an abstract version of what I actually
hear in my head. I am constantly seeking the sound that matches
what I hear in my head. The guitar that I play is a signature
model guitar made by luthier Rick Canton. The body design was
influenced by the original Klein of which I have two and also
use regularly. Ricks guitar built on the idea of the ergonomic
design while adding a hollow body, internal microphone and hexaphonic
pickup system. I needed a guitar that I could combine regular
guitar pickups, with an acoustic microphone to pick up the sound
of the strings and the attack, plus anything that I wanted to
blend in with external processing. Together, Rick and I came up
with a guitar that could handle blending these sounds. Rick is
an amazingly creative builder and I am happy to have my signature
guitar built by him.
you working on a new CD? If so can tell us a little about it?
When might it be released?
I took some time off from recording to write a book with Mick
Goodrick called Creative Chordal Harmony for Guitar.
That was a big project. Now that it is complete, new recorded
material will be flowing out this year.
I have two records that are all almost finished.
you enjoy teaching at Berklee? What is the level of student like
Yes, I enjoy teaching at Berklee very much. I like to share whatever
knowledge I have with other people. I have been fortunate to have
had great teachers in my life and I feel that it is my responsibility
to try to pass on the knowledge that others have shared with me.
The level of student varies at Berklee but they are all excited
to learn which gives me a lot of creative energy. I have had the
privilege of teaching a lot of very talented musicians.
you teach privately? If so what aspect of your playing do most
students want to get from you?
I do not teach privately very much anymore. Occasionally I will
take on a student or two, but very rarely. I started a new website
called www.internetguitarlessons.tv. It is a membership website
that features weekly streaming video lessons, and I interact with
the students on the forum. It is going really great, we have a
lot of students on the site and I am enjoying the process of putting
all of the material together. Since I do not do Skype lessons
and rarely teach privately, this is the best place to find me.
can we see you playing live right now?
My website has live concerts listed. It is www.timmillermusic.com
advice would you give to a guitar student looking to enter the
music profession today?
Play from the heart, play what you enjoy and follow your inner
ear. Play with as many people as possible, keep an open mind,
treat other musicians with respect and enjoy yourself.
for taking the time to chat with us today. How can folks find
you on the web and hear your music?
My website is timmillermusic.com. My instructional website is
internetguitarlessons.tv. All of my music is available on itunes
and similar websites.
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