Written by Walter Bryant
Tim Miller, a name that has developed in the New York and Boston Jazz circuit over the last couple of years, has brought the world a captivating new sound from the electric guitar. A native of Michigan, Miller embodies a unique style that can be considered a product of the jazz giants of old as well as the fusion pioneers of the last 30 years. Scrounge through YouTube and you’ll find a few clips of Miller playing at clubs across the east coast as people watch in awe of his smooth articulate lines on his custom semi-hollow Rick Toone guitar. Miller claims that some of his influences include Pat Metheny and Eric Johnson, but it was none other than the sounds of Eddie Van Halen that really encouraged him to get serious about the instrument. Hearing Miller for the first time, one would sense a Holdsworthian vibe, but divulge a little deeper into his phrasing, and you’ll unveil something all-the-more interesting. For starters, Miller utilizes a hybrid-picking technique that he believes developed out of his will to replicate sounds in his head that were otherwise impossible with alternate picking. A feather-like picking stroke also contributes to his unorthodox sound.
With a tone on the cleaner side, Miller’s style is very articulate; even during what seem like endless runs of intervallic scales and emotive phrasing. Lastly, a major constributing factor to his astronomical sound is his guitar built by Rick Canton; a luthier who is currently building guitars for metal acts such as Tosin Abasi and Misha Mansoor. Inspired by the original Klein guitars, what makes Miller’s guitar so special is not only it’s shape, but it’s on-board mic which captures a raw acoustic tone straight from the sound-hole, combining a clean and organic sound with a slightly over-driven tone from Miller’s amplifier…the result is nothing short of gratifying. It is a sound that brings life to his live trio that released their second album just a couple of years ago. Currently, Miller is a renowned professor at the Berklee College of Music, and is all-the-while actively playing live shows when he can. You can usually catch him at the 55 Bar in NYC or at a few jazz-clubs in Boston with his trio. He also hosts a series of online lessons set to offer insight into jazz-guitar playing and his particular approach. Tim Miller is truly a testament to what the Experimental-Jazz world has to offer, and we’re nothing but excited! You can keep up to date with Tim Miller’s exceptional work on his website at: www.timmillermusic.com. Below you’ll find one of his lesson videos where he offers some tips on legato technique. You’ll get a brief taste of his solo-playing at the beginning of the video. Enjoy!