Photo Credit: Eve Muzic
Interview with, JAZZ GUITARIST
Vibe Magazine July, 1992,interview by Holly Burnette.
Vibe: Let's talk
first about how you got involed in playing guitar?
TP: I started playing guitar when i was about six years old. My parents bought me a guitar and I just started learning it, and ever since then, have taught myself.
Vibe: What do you think prompted you to want a guitar at the age of six?
TP: The Beatles.
Vibe: Were you into pop music when you were younger?
TP: Oh yea. I listened to pop music 'till i was in high school and it wasnt until high school that I started listening to jazz music.
Vibe: You also play a Greek - instrument the bozouki. What are the differences between the guitar and bozouki?
TP: The bozouki is just like a Greek version of a twelve string guitar. Actually the strings are doubled just like a twelve string guitar, except they are tuned a whole step lower.
Vibe: When did
you start playing that?
TP: About six years ago.
Vibe: How many years have you been playing guitar at this point?
TP: 27 years.
Vibe: When you were young, and you started moving into jazz, were there particular artists that compelled you to go in that direction.?
TP: Yes, I'd say Wes Montgomery was one of them.The first time I heard him, I knew that that was the kind of music I really wanted to learn about.
Vibe: What in particular did he do that attracted you?
TP: He just played a lot from his heart.You could just hear that he had a good heart and seemed like a good person 'cause of the way he played. He did a lot of octaves which were a lot different for a guitar player to do. That was his trademark. Just his style and everything about him attracted me to jazz guitar.
Vibe: You have a very distictive style of your own. What prompted that style to develop?
TP: I guess I'm just a mixture of a lot of different styles of music. I don't just like jazz music- I love Stevie Wonder; I love The Beatles; I love Pat Metheny- a lot of different styles of music. And I think that's why I play the way I do because its a mixture of not just one style of jazz but a mixture of all music.That's basically how I've come up with the way I play.
Vibe: Who are some of your own favorite guitar players?
TP: Wes Montgomery, of coarse, Pat Metheny- Pat's been a big influence in my guitar playing - John Abercrombie, Jim Hall.
Vibe: What are the differences in the way that the audiences respond to Greek music as apposed to jazz?
TP: Greek music is very festive. They're more into the dancing and the celebrating. With jazz music, it's a celebration with the ears and listening and just relating to what the musicians are playing.
Vibe: You have been playing in a variety of different circumstances including working with the Dionysian Arts ensemble, teaching music to children and things like that. What would you say, at this point, has been the most gratifying experience in your musical career?
TP: The most gradifying I'd have to say has been playing with Jeff Grubbs. He's a bass player - a great bass player - and it seems like whenever we play together there's a certain communication, there's a certain hook-up that you rarely feel. It's always nice playing with different musicians but this is a special thing.
Vibe: Your working together right now?
TP: Yeah, until he goes to Germany [in July].
Vibe: Is it kind of a mystical experience or a magical experience when you work together?
TP: I think in life there are certain people that are meant to be together. Certain chemistries work better than others or click in a certain way that others don't. I just think it's chemistry.
Vibe: And that's largely what jazz is about, Talk about the particular wonder of jazz. |
TP: The particular wonder to me is how it's a growing thing. We always grows-never staying dormant in any one place. As long as your playing jazz music, your always gonna grow and it's gonna teach you and you're always gonna reach new levels. That's the wonder to me because it's like a teacher in a way. If you keep striving for this thing and keep looking for it, you're always gonna get better and you're gonna see new things.
Vibe: Could you not say the same thing about rock music or about country music, or is it just the limitations of those particular styles that keep you hedged in to a particular format?
TP: That's a good question. I would'nt want to put any other style of music down 'cause I think they're all good. There's great players in all styles. In rock music, there's Eddie Van Halen. He's a great guitar player. For me, for my particular taste, its just been jazz music that's been the teacher for me. I can't really criticize any other style because they're all good, but for me jazz just worked. The other beautiful thing about jazz is the communication and dialogue with the musicians-that bond that happens.
Vibe: If you were to articulate the greatist gift that jazz has given to you what would that be?
TP: Being able to express myself through this music and grow. It's so nice to hear the growth over the years. It's nice that that can still happen. About 10 years ago, I remember speaking to another really fine musician, Wilber Krebs, about how we would sound five years from then. Could we even imagine it? And back then you have a lot of different views about how you're playing and you don't really see the full picture. I think back now on how I played then and my mind was closed off back then to all the avenues that I could go and how I could really grow. It's helped me see all the things that I really didn't see. Now there's so much more I want to learn. Back then, I thought that I was really getting somewhere but I find out that I really wasn't. It's a never ending learning experience. That's one thing that it's helped me see. There's always gonna be someone playing better than the way you play- always gonna be someone better than you. I want to keep striving and growing cause you never can say I'm just gonna stop, I'm finished, I'm playing as good as I'm gonna play, I've learned as much as I can learn.
Vibe: Talk about the current trio that you've been working with and the particular chemistry of that trio.
TP: Jeff Bremer, who is a great bass player, I've been playing with him for about eight years, and Shedrick Hobbs for about the same amount of time. And they're wonderful musicians to work with. Jeff Bremer gives you a lot of freedom when he plays and he's always listening. There's always an interaction with what he gives. Shedrick is a very srong player. His roots have been bebop jazz and blues. His experience of playing all those years is just a treasure to be able to play with. It gives you a lot of energy. It gives you a lot of feedback. It keeps you on your toes. I love working with both of those musicians.
Vibe: What dates are that particular group working in July? I know you're working every Tuesday at Cedars.
TP: Every Tuesday at the Cedars with that particular trio. The thing about my trios- a lot of times they have different musicians because of the changes of their work schedule. Jeff Bremer is in a reggae band, Rainbow Tribe , and he does a lot of classica lthings, too,so he doesn't always get a chance to work with us, but I'm playing different places with other musicians under my own name, such as the Briers every other friday from 5:30 to 9, starting with the 3rd [5:30 - 9:00]. We're playing at Pyatt Street Downunder on the 3rd also. [10 - 2:00]. I work a lot with Straight No Chaser. We're playing at Pyatt Street on the 11th and 19th. July is not as busy as other months. A lot of times we play at Mr. P's, too.
Vibe: What's coming up for you - any recordings?
TP: Jeff Grubbs and Mark Gonder, a drummer, and myself have been doing some recording. Whenever Jeff comes in town we usually record and that's been fun. We've just been recording the original music, my music and Jeff Grubbs' music. Hopefully I'd like to send this tape out to different record companies and different radio stations, to let them hear what I can do to try to promote my music.