An interview with Tim Rollinson for Jazz Australia.
JA: What was the inspiration behind the recording of your new album Nitty Gritty?
TR: I had a lot of ideas for new songs, but even though in the past my musical path has been described as having an ‘eclectic trajectory’, I didn’t feel that I had a cohesive album. It dawned on me that I should split the more groove based compositions and the jazz based ones and record them separately. On a practical level I also wanted to keep the band small, to feature the guitar and so be able to play the music live without too much organising and rehearsing.
JA: You wrote all the tunes bar one yourself. How long did this process take?
TR: I’m constantly recording onto my iPhone whenever an idea springs into my head. Sometimes they are just portions to be looked at again later or less frequently they can be fairly complete. One of the songs Cause and Effect was previously recorded as the title track on my first album. That song was written in about 1996. Most of the others are pretty recent, one track (Truce) was put together collectively in the studio.
JA: How would you describe the style of music on this album as opposed to some of your previous recording with DIG (DIrections In Groove) and the Modern Congress?
TR: I call it soul jazz. It also has electronica and world influences.
JA: You have gone for a very analogue sound on the album. Can you tell us a little about the recording process and the sound you were looking for?
TR: I tried to achieve warm sounds but with clarity and depth. I wanted a mix that had atmosphere and and wasn’t too clean or clinical. The album was recorded using a vintage analog Neve desk at Linear Studios in Sydney then digitally mixed and edited.
JA: How do you think your own guitar style has evolved over the years?
TR: The main changes are due to experience and having more harmonic knowledge and awareness. I feel I can express an idea more succinctly but imply more at the same time. Also, I’m more aware of shaping the sound and phrasing and trying to be more expressive. I like to think that you don’t necessarily get better as in speed/technique but you get “wider” and more options exist at any one time during improvisation.
JA: There’s an impressive lineup of musicians on the album. How did the ensemble come about and tell us about the players?
TR: I’ve been lucky enough to have known and played with Alex for a long time. Nic, i’ve known for a few years and have played together with him in a few different situations including ‘The Greasy Chicken Orchestra’. I play with Shannon (and Alex) in a band called ‘The Specialists’.
JA: Where do you draw your musical influences from these days and who are some of your favourite musicians?
TR: Guitar wise I still listen to Jim Hall, Kenny Burrell, Wes Montgomery. I like John Scofield and Pat Metheny – particularly the trio albums. Mark Ribot, I’m currently checking out Nels Cline’s latest. Bill Frisell is a real favourite. George Benson, Cornell Dupree, Eric Gale, early John McLaughlin, Hendrix, Peter Bernstein, Robben Ford. Sonny Sharrock, Derek Trucks, Buddy Guy, Joe Pass.
There are many great Sydney musicians who are inspiring on a daily basis.
JA: What can we expect at Foundry616 on Tuesday 22 November when you launch the album?
TR: We will be playing mostly pieces from the new album Nitty Gritty but also a few favourites from the two previous albums.