June 18, 2024

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Interview with Robert Miller: My wife encouraged me to write more vocal tunes: Video

Jazz interview with jazz bassist and composer Robert Miller. An interview by email in writing. 

JazzBluesNews.Space: – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Robert Miller: – I grew up in NYC in a musical family. My father played the trumpet and decided when I was born that I would also be a musician.

JBN.S: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound? 

RM: – I grew up on the rock music of the ‘60s, particularly the British Invasion bands. So I played rock until I was 19 when I was introduced to jazz by Jimmy Garrison, John Coltrane’s bassist, who was my teacher.

I started playing jazz fusion in the ‘70s and loved the power of that music. I’ve kept that genre alive since, moving more into rock/jazz and vocals.

JBN.S: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?

RM: – As a bassist I play along with a variety of recorded music. My favs include Sting, Bruce Hornsby and James Taylor.

JBN.S: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now?You’re playing is very sensitive, deft, it’s smooth, and I’d say you drift more toward harmony than dissonance. There is some dissonance there, but you use it judiciously. Is that a conscious decision or again, is it just an output of what goes in?

RM: – Yes you’re right! I focus on melody and rhythm in my compositions. I want the listener to be able to remember and sing the songs. Too much Jazz is dissonant which I think turns off the average listener.

JBN.S: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?

RM: – I don’t listen to any other current music. I do my thing and I don’t want to be influenced by what someone else is doing. My aim is true.

JBN.S: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

RM: – Music is 95% soul. You must feel it deep down.

JBN.S: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want? 

RM: – My wife encouraged me to write more vocal tunes because she said people like vocals. I agreed. Plus I’ve got a world class singer in Ziarra Washington so the decision was easy.

Every audience we’ve played before – from rock to jazz to smooth jazz has loved us.

JBN.S: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

RM: – We just played at the Nisville Festival in Serbia. 10,000+ screaming fans who didn’t know us in advance but wound up giving us a standing ovation.

JBN.S: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?

RM: – Make it current, like we do.

JBN.S: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life? 

RM: – Coltrane was right. Music gets into you on the deepest level. It’s universal.

JBN.S: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be? 

RM: – Eliminate fake music that’s only a beat with no melody.

JBN.S: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?

RM: – As I said before, my personal musical taste lies in the past, so many historical artists.

JBN.S: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go? 

RM: – My musical time machine would be set for the ‘60s. That’s when I think music was wide open, experimental and at its apex. Since then popular music has gotten narrower and narrower, radio is practically gone, and record stores don’t exist any more.

JBN.S: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…

RM: – What’s the future of music?

JBN.S: – Thank you for answers. Fine !!!

RM: – The world of streaming music is terrible for artists. We get paid nearly nothing for our music while companies like Spotify are worth billions. And people rent your songs on a one by one basis. I’m hoping that this era ends some day in favor of the artists.

JBN.S: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now? 

RM: – All that I can do is to continue to write, record and perform the best music that I can!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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