Monday, October 16, 2017

Tim Miller - 2005 "Trio"

Tim Miller brings a distinctive voice to the world of jazz guitar. His career has taken him to Paris, New York, and Boston, where he is an associate professor of guitar at Berklee College of Music. Guitar Player magazine characterized his playing as "pure melody consciousness with remarkable control, a breathy, violiny tone [and] bell-like consistency." Miller's music combines explosive raw energy that is artistically balanced with soulful melodic compositions.

While living in Paris, he played extensively with drummer Aldo Romano. This led to recordings and European concerts and jazz festivals. Miller later joined the faculty at Berklee and recorded Sides with saxophonist George Garzone. He also played in a quartet with fellow guitarist Mick Goodrick. In 2005, Miller released his first solo recording, Trio, which has received critical acclaim.

Tim Miller's third indie effort stands out by manifesting his influences as an aural whole. Compositionally, the freedom and openness in the music reflects the deep influence of Keith Jarrett, while sonically, the air-infused yet electric guitar sound dances with bass and drums mixed in a pastoral acoustic style. Even with headphones, the listener hears the trio of instruments entwined in the air, coupled by intense playing and musicianship.
From the perspective of guitar-related influences we hear the chordal inspiration of a fellow Bostonian, voicing-god Mick Goodrick. Linearity is Miller's calling card, seamlessly melding Allan Holdsworth's 21st Century legato technique with a non-guitar-centric, truly jazz vocabulary and phraseology, with notes percussing from the fretboard in pianistic fashion.

Another facet that takes Trio up a notch is the particular attention paid to tone and articulation on the high end. Miller devoted requisite consideration and time to sonics, and the dividends are sumptuous. An advocate of the ergonomically correct Klein axes, Miller's performance on "Untied sounds as if he's playing two of them at once, electric for the atmospheric chords of the intro and acoustic for the quick sixteenth-note turn-backs found on high, doubled by the drums. Take Toriyama's tone is apart from the more athletic norms of the "fusion realm, with more of the room than the kit in the mix. His use of slackened snare, coupled with bassist Josh Davis' booming upright sound, is especially effective on this track.

Miller employs a super-thick tone for his solo, alternating bop-legato mastery with sax-like repeated figures that belie the layout of the fretboard. Miller can lay into a rock'n'roll repeating hyperspeed four-note figure akin to traditional Hendrix or Page twelfth-fret pentatonics, but in the middle of the neck, using four notes at spread intervals of the harmony-of-the moment, something more out of Mike Brecker's vocabulary.

While the recording weighs in at the forty-minute mark, there's much to be said for concentration and self-editing. "Sparkle is ninety seconds of inspired melodic riffing against Toriyama's percussion arsenal and will alone reward consecutive listening surpassing the total of the disc's real time. It would be an interesting musical exercise to map out here where each of Miller's melodic phrases begins or ends, or to pick the midpoint of each. I am sure each roadmap would in turn comprise alternate songs. Similarly, the three minutes of "MG, dedicated to mentor and Berklee fellowman Goodrick, forge a successful marriage of modern rock balladry with jazz.

"Straight Lines is the composition of the set, a mid-tempo cut smoldering with the passion and memorable melody usually reserved for ballads, especially in Miller's opening solo salvo. The two "Density compositions, using minimal themes fashioned from rhythmic chordal materials growing out of and into weaving strands of single-note improvisation, reveal substantial rewards unearthed by exploring repetition as a means of mining new melodic and improvisational territory.

The Generic Modality Compression method Tim Miller uses for his musical expression makes wonders to the listeners' sense of imagination. At least that is how I feel about his approach. It makes it even more adventurous for guitarists like myself. But that is just a side effect of Miller's music unique beauty.

Nothing should stand between this one getting heard and Miller's justifiably meteoric ascension on the worldwide guitar-watchers org-chart.

An excellent CD that showcases Tim's unique jazz voice and his incredible chops. Using a hybrid picking style with fingers and pick, his playing is nothing short of amazing. Elements of Keith Jarrett, Allan Holdsworth, Chick Corea, and Mick Goodrick can be heard as influences on his playing. This is a cutting edge CD for those interested in one of the new leaders in the progressive jazz scene. Highly recommended...also his new CD Trio2 available on his website

Track listing:

01 Intro 0:57
02 Untied 3:55
03 Shift 3:56
04 Paris 2:40
05 Sparkle 1:29
06 Straight Lines 4:33
07 The Trees, The Sun 4:05
08 Density One 4:05
09 TR 4:47
10 Two View 4:09
11 Density Two 2:29
12 MG 2:56

Total length: 40:01


Tim Miller: guitar;
Joshua Davis: bass;
Take Toriyama: drums.



  2. Excellent stuff! Thanks for sharing this!