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Moving to Los Angeles in the mid-'80s, Nils began studying composition, arrangement and film composition. While acquiring his production skills as a studio engineer in the '90s, he started doing sessions as a rhythm guitarist for everyone from Rick Braun to The Temptations and George Benson. Nils contributed as a musician and co-writer of "Keep Rollin'" on Benson's 1998 album Standing Together, and the guitar and vocal legend returned the favor by playing a duet with the guitarist on Nils' 1998 debut CD, Blue Planet.
Since producing music for the independent film Beyond The Ring and working as Music Editor on the Fox sitcom Undeclared, Nils has been Music Editor for the show Weeds for the past two years and has composed for the Independent Spirit Awards for the past three.
"As much as I've loved creating music in the studio all these years, I realized when I started to play concerts and festivals last year that I'd been missing the yin to my yang, so to speak," he says. "It's been a wonderfully validating experience. I've enjoyed the travel and the opportunity to play for so many people who enjoy what I do. That's the reason I started making music in the first place. I'm looking forward to getting out there again, and, like the title of the album says, I'm seriously Ready to Play."
Your sound and approach to music: Music is communication.
Your teaching approach: Let the student find his way. Encourage enjoyment and self-expression.
Your dream band:
Chaka Khan My dream band is on my latest album, Up Close and PersonalRicky Lawson: drums; Alex Al: bass; Clydene Jackson: keys and vocals; Oliver Brown: percussion.
Road story: Your best or worst experience: On a direct flight to a gig in Reno I got off the plane just to find out that the direct flight had stopped in Oakland. Ended up having to rent a car and drive to Reno. Made it just in time for sound check.
Mableton Theatre in Atlanta GA; Great amphitheatre.
Your favorite recording in your discography and why? I had the chance to record with the Temptations and got my first Platinum record award.
The first Jazz album I bought was: Herbie Hancock, VSOP.
What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? I see my self as a songwriter and guitarist. The guitarist in me will appeal to the other guitarists, but the songwriter is really the one who touches the whole audience. So having written two number one singlesone of them ("Pacific Coast Highway") being the most played song in 2005makes me extremely proud.
Did you know...
I grew up in Munich Germany.
CDs you are listening to now:
Massive Attack, Best of;
Maze, Live in New Orleans;
Larry Carlton, Sleepwalker;
Robben Ford, Talk to Your Daughter.
Desert Island picks:
Earth, Wind & Fire, Best of;
Massive Attack, Best of;
Nils, Ready to Play;
Nils, Up Close and Personal.
How would you describe the state of jazz today? Smooth Jazz is getting fenced in by corporate radio. It doesn't work if music isn't alive and changing it is dead. Long live Internet radio.
What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? Playlists with more than the same old 20 artists. Open up the format to artists that explore different avenues.
What is in the near future? Release of Gravity180 CD.
If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a: Rock musician.
I grew up listening to mainstream '70s rock then ended up on the staff at the college paper at San Diego State, and volunteered to review heavy metal LPs. My second semester, the music editor dropped a Fenton Robinson LP on my desk, Night Flight. You like metal; they play guitar--he plays guitar, the editor told me
I grew up listening to mainstream '70s rock then ended up on the staff at the college paper at San Diego State, and volunteered to review heavy metal LPs. My second semester, the music editor dropped a Fenton Robinson LP on my desk, Night Flight. You like metal; they play guitar--he plays guitar, the editor told me. If we don't run a review, Alligator Records is going to stop servicing us.
Night Flight opened up a whole new world for me--the blues led me, inevitably, to Basie, who led to Duke, who led to Mingus, who led to Miles, who led to ...