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Take Five With Robert Miller

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Robert Miller: I play electric bass. I've been playing jazz since the early 1970s. I lived in Boston then and had the privilege of playing with all the great musicians who came through town. My group at the time included Anton Fig, David Letterman's drummer. I later recorded two CDs as leader [Child's Play (Wildcat Records) and Prisoners of Love (32 Records)]. My new group is called PROJECT GRAND SLAM, and I'm very excited about it.

Instrument(s): Electric Bass.

Teachers and/or influences? My main teacher was Jimmy Garrison, John Coltrane's bassist. He taught me to appreciate and play jazz. He taught me my first walking line on "All The Things You Are. A lovely, sweet man. My influences are many and include Jaco Pastorius, Stanley Clarke, Jack Bruce, Jim Fielder, and Victor Wooten.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... My father was a musician (trumpet) and there was always music in our house. I always wanted to be a musician.

Your sound and approach to music: My approach to playing bass is to lay a good foundation, and to create the groove and the mood. I go for three things— melody, groove and efficient structure.

Your dream band: On my jazz side I would love to work with Chick Corea, who is an artist I've always adored for his range, talent, boldness and creativity. On my rock side I would love to play with Eric Clapton, who is one of the most tasteful musicians on the planet.

Favorite venue: The Blue Note in New York City is just the best. A world class venue. Always a great, appreciative audience. You feel like a star when you play there.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why? My new PROJECT GRAND SLAM tracks. The music is so fresh, vibrant and alive.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? I am trying to bridge jazz and rock, my two greatest influences. Fusion may have developed a bad name, but in its day the best of it combined soloing and beat. I want to push the envelope in instrumental music. I want to create jazz that the non-jazz lover can relate to. Jazz that you can dance to. Jazz with the same intensity as great rock music.

Did you know... I played the trumpet for twelve years, throughout junior high and high school, including the band and the orchestra. I studied trumpet with Phil Fisher, who was the lead trumpet for the Radio City Music Hall orchestra.

How do you use the internet to help your career? I'm still learning!

CDs you are listening to now: I don't listen to CDs. I listen to tracks on my iPod on shuffle.

Desert Island picks: Chick Corea and Return to Forever, Light as a Feather; Miles Davis, Kind of Blue; Weather Report, Heavy Weather.

What is in the near future? I'm concentrating all my effort on the birth of PROJECT GRAND SLAM. We're in the early stages but it's very exciting. Stay tuned...

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