This is Part 1 of our interview with Tim Bedner, jazz guitar master.
In this episode, Tim talks about his development as a guitarist and teacher. He tells us that he was a “late bloomer” at the guitar, but at the same time, envies players who started at an earlier age because they have better motor control and are “wired differently” because they started to play guitar before age 10. He is none the less an amazingly good guitar player and teacher, all the more impressive because he only started playing in his late teens.
He tells about his early rock influences of Led Zeppelin and Steve Miller, and other performers of the seventies. We also touch on the challenges of learning to play guitar in an era before the Internet, especially YouTube, was available to the masses.
He takes us through his history at Berklee College of Music, where he earned a Bachelor of Music. This was first experience of learning music at a higher level. At age twenty-four, he left a comfortable, well-paying job in a sought after trade – industrial electrician – to pursue his dream of becoming a full-time musician, against his family’s wishes. It was a huge leap of faith that required an enormous amount of courage.
He then tells us about his experience of earning his Masters of Music in Jazz Performance at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, where he studied under the likes of Joe Negri, a sage in the jazz guitar world. His Duquesne years allowed him to study the guitar at an even deeper level and where he got his first experiences teaching at the University level. This is where he learned the CAGED system of organizing the guitar.
We get a brief introduction to his CD, Of Light and Shadow, which was released in 2012 and is still available for download on his website, http://www.timbedner.com.
We chat about Alcorn Music Studios, http://www.alcornmusicstudios.ca, the music school that so graciously hosted our interview and where Tim teaches. Our video was shot at Gig Space, a non profit organization that hosts regular performances by musicians from across North America, which also holds recitals of Alcorn Music students. Gig Space leases a room within Alcorn Music’s location at 953 Gladstone Avenue in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Tim then treats us to some of his fine playing and an excellent demonstration of the CAGED system of playing. He is a technically superb player who combines his technical prowess with a palpable love for the instrument and for his favorite genre of music, jazz. He is one of those rare guitarists who is very intellectual about playing guitar but at the same time, plays with a lot of feeling and soul. He plays in such a smooth manner and is equally at home playing with a flat pick or finger-style.
He draws on a diverse range of influences, from Jimmy Page to Joe Pas, that have made him a consummate professional and an extremely versatile musician. He rattles off and plays complicated and arcane chords as nonchalantly as someone reading the weather forecast. It’s really quite remarkable.
It’s interesting to get the perspective of someone with a totally different background to mine and different than that of most people I know. Just simply asking the question of who is the most influential guitarist, we get such a different perspective from someone with a jazz background. He did name Jimmy Page as an early influence of his – on that, we definitely agree. It goes to show how consummate a musician Page was in that he could influence such a wide variety of guitarists, from diverse backgrounds and who play a variety of styles of music.
A true gentleman with an open mind and open heart, he embraces and recognizes the validity of several genres of music. It is a trait that is very refreshing from a musician of such a high caliber and who is as musically educated as he.
To read Part 2 of this series, please click on the link below:
To read Part 3 of this interview, please click on the following link: