Many people may not know of Judd Miller by name but they surely have heard his work. Judd Miller is arguably THE top EVI player in the world. He has performed on numerous big budget movie soundtracks and with the world's top recording artists. Judd Miller is a renowned, leading exponent of the EVI (electronic valve instrument). His expertise on the instrument and his superlative sound design from his enormous, self-created sound design library has him as first call, and one of the most popular musicians, for top run movie scores. He can be found around the world working on movies and recordings with top composers and orchestras London with the London Philharmonic, New York, Berlin, and of course his native Los Angeles.
His work with composers Maurice Jarre, Stewart Copeland, Joel McNeely, Danny Elfman, James Newton Howard, John Williams, James Horner, etc., can be heard on countless, well-known movie soundtracks. Most recently, Judd was the Sound Designer and principal musician for composer Joel McNeely on James Cameron's acclaimed sci-fi hit "Dark Angel", and was a featured soloist on the Danny Elfman "Planet of the Apes" soundtrack and McNeely's "Peter Pan" movie! Currently, with McNeely, he is completing the ambient sound design for James Cameron's IMAX documentary on the Titanic: Ghosts of the Abyss.
His programming and sound design skills are also well known in the jazz world including ongoing collaborations with such artists as the Yellowjackets, Michael Brecker, Peter Erskine, Vince Mendoza, David Goldblatt and many, many more. Judd was recently featured on Charlie Haden's new recording alongside Brad Meldau, Michael Brecker, and Brian Blade. Vince Mendoza also contributed a couple of arrangements. Judd's ability to create a searching, beautiful ambience and his knowledge of the form is unparalleled.
Judd was kind enough to take time out from him busy schedule for this exclusive interview with Patchman Music's Matt Traum. Here is a very rare glimpse into the mind of one of the great EVI players...
Q.) Judd, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to allow me to interview you. For many years you have been a major wind controller player. Your EVI work has been recorded on numerous movie soundtracks as well as on recordings with a host of the world's top recording artists. Some folks may not know the name, but they certainly have heard your work. What got you interested in playing the wind controller? When did you start?
Q.) Can you describe your first experiences with the new technology? This must have been an amazing time.
Q.) Do you still play the acoustic trumpet?
Q.) Can you give us a little history of the evolution of your wind controller rig? Readers may be interested to know about the various systems you have used over the years. Why were certain pieces of gear special to you? What did you like about them at the time?
Q.) You have always been a staunch fan of the Crumar EVI which was designed by Nyle Steiner. Even while Akai produced a later model in the EVI1000 / EWV2000, we hear that you still preferred the Crumar model. Can you give us a little insight into what was so special to you about the Crumar EVI?
Q.) You are now using Nyle Steiner's MIDI EVI. How do you like this model? Do you miss anything about the completely analog Crumar EVI?
Q.) Are you making use the Breath Control Voltage signal that Nyle wired into one of the unused MIDI connector pins? Or are you strictly "going MIDI"?
Q.) Do you use footpedals? If so, for what purpose?
Q.) You have recently scaled way back on the hardware side of things and are now using softsynths on your Mac PowerBook. Can you elaborate on your current setup for folks that might want to go that route?
Q.) Do you still own any hardware synths? Which ones?
Q.) Over the years, what were some of your favorite synths to use with the EVI?
Q.) The Yamaha VL series (VL1, VL1-m, VL70-m) seem to be popular with wind controller players. Have you tried them? Any experience with the Patchman TURBO VL for the VL70-m?
Q.) Any tips for wind controller players getting into the softsynth/laptop thing?
Q.) Many people may not be aware of your illustrious recording career both backing up other musicians and in many very high profile movie soundtracks. Can you talk a little about how you got into movie soundtrack work?
Q.) What is it like to do a soundtrack session on EVI? What special musical and technical skills are involved in making it all come together "in the heat of battle"?
Q.) What were the most common things you were asked to do in a session with your EVI? What musical roles do you most often have to fill?
Q.) What was "THE Judd Miller EVI Rig" in past years?
Q.) What do you take when called upon for a recording session or a live gig these days?
Q.) You have worked with some of the biggest names in the music business as performer, composer, and sound designer. What are some of the more memorable recordings you have done? Can you recommend a few to someone wanting to hear Judd Miller's EVI work?
Q.) You have worked with EWI great Michael Brecker. Can you tell us what it was like to work with him?
Q.) Have you recorded as a front man or led groups as a front man on EVI? What was that live experience like?
Q.) Any tips on doing session work with a wind controller?
Q.) What products and/or features would you like to see developed from the synth manufacturers from the perspective of a wind controller player?
Q.) How do you see the role of the wind controller in the future? Do you think it will ever become mainstream like the electric guitar or keyboard synth have?
Q.) Have you seen the Australian-made MDT brass style MIDI wind controller? Any thoughts on this alternative to the EVI?
Q.) As I become more experienced on the wind controller I find the issue of latency more and more critical- even to the point of it affecting my overall enjoyment of playing the instrument. I have likened the difference of real analog to MIDI as spitting the sound out from your mouth compared to controlling a sound at arm's length. It's a subtle difference that one generally can only notice if one has known what true analog control feels like where there is no latency. Any comments on MIDI verses analog with regards to controller response time and smoothness?
Q.) Who are some of your favorite wind controller players?
Q.) Wow! Thank you. I feel a bit out of place lumped in with those incredible guys! What sort of music and musicians does Judd Miller listen to in his free time?
Judd, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. It's been an honor!
Judd has probably used almost every synth and sampler out there. Over the years he has used Roland, EMU, and Akai samplers and synths such as the Oberheim Xpander. Judd is now using an Apple PowerBook laptop for most of his EVI work- although he still has his trusty Xpander and Emulator.
In past years, Judd has been a stout Crumar EVI advocate but recently he has found his sound with Nyle Steiner's MIDI EVI connected to an Apple PowerBook laptop loaded with Native Instruments soft synths such as their flagship sampler Kontakt.
You can learn more about wind controllers such as the EVI Judd plays by visiting the Wind Controller FAQ.
Judd also likes to use pizza stones and cornmeal!
Judd Miller has performed on numerous TV, Film, and Jingle sessions and has played and recorded with the world's top artists. Judd is also a world class sound designer having programmed sounds on top recordings for countless artists. Judd is currently very active in the LA music scene. Here is just a small list of projects he has worked on...
Artist Title Label Info Date Contribution Kazu Matsui Is That The Way To Your Heart Impulse! MCAD-42229 1984 ---- Michael Brecker Michael Brecker MCA/Impulse! MCAD-5980 1987 Thank you in credits Michael Brecker Don't Try This At Home Impulse! MCAD-42229 1988 Synth programming Michael Brecker Now You See It, Now You Don't GRP GRD-9622. 1990 Thank you in credits John Patitucci On The Corner GRP GRD-9583 1989 EVI John Patitucci Sketchbook GRP 96172 1990 EVI, synth programming Jimmy Haslip Arc GRP GRD-9726 1993 EVI, synth programming Pauline Wilson Intuition Noteworthy Records 1994 EVI Yellowjackets Red Heat Unitone 2000 EVI Yellowjackets Run For Your Life GRP GRD-9754 1994 Synth programming Yellowjackets Greenhouse GRP GRD-9630 1991 EWI programming Yellowjackets Like A River GRP GRP-96892 1993 EWI programming Keiko Matsui The Very Best Of Keiko Matsui GRP B000153202 2004 EVI David Benoit Urban Daydreams GRP GRD-9587 1989 EVI Ashley Maher Hi Virgin Records Ltd. CDV 2611 1989 EVI Bill Gable This Perfect Day ---- ---- EVI Alex de Grassi The World's Getting Loud Windham Hill 11131-2 1993 EVI David Diggs Jazzwerk Indiggant Music IM0013 2004 EVI / Composer David Diggs E-Klek-Trik Silverline DVD-A 81042-9 ---- EVI Steve Edwards Rapture Talking Drum Records ---- EVI Michael Schmidt ---- ---- 2005 EVI Jing Chi 3D Jing Chi 3D Tone Center 2004 Sound Design, EVI, Eng. Christopher Cross The Very Best Of Christopher Cross Rhino 2002 EVI Pat Kelly Views Of The Future Rhino 1987 EVI Vince Mendoza Start Here ---- 1987 EVI Vince Mendoza Instructions Inside ---- 1991 EVI Bobby McFerrin Bang!Zoom Blue Note 1995 Synth Programming Rippingtons Welcome To St. James Club GRP GRD-9816 1990 EVI
Here is a list of composers Judd Miller has worked with over the years...
Maurice Jarre Joel McNeely John Williams Stewart Copeland Henry Mancini Alan Menkin Vince Mendoza Danny Elfman James Newton Howard James Horner Bill Conti Trevor Jones Lennie Niehaus
Judd Miller has performed on numerous TV, Film, and Jingle sessions and has played and recorded with the world's top artists. Judd is also a world class sound designer having programmed sounds on top recordings for countless artists. Judd is currently very active in the LA music scene. Here is a list of projects he has worked on...
Movie Title Composer Date Contribution Unlawful Entry Michael Fisher 1992 EVI The Leopard Son Stewart Copeland 1996 Wind Percussion Made Men Stewart Copeland 1998 EVI Four Days In September Stewart Copeland 1998 Performer, Producer Pecker Stewart Copeland 1998 Performer More Dogs Than Bones Stewart Copeland 1999 EVI She's All That Stewart Copeland 1999 EVI The Hulk Danny Elfman 2003 Synth Programming
Updated Nov 28, 2012. But wait! There's more!...
Movie Title Composer Accidental Tourist John Williams Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls Robert Folk Addam's Family Mark Shaiman After Dark, My Sweet Maurice Jarre Airborne Stewart Copeland Akeelah And The Bee Aaron Zigman Alive James Newton Howard Almost An Angel Maurice Jarre Amazing Panda Adventure Bill Ross Anaconda Randy Edelman Armed And Dangerous James Dipasquale Babysitters Club David Frank Big Momma's House Richard Gibbs Black Knight Randy Edelman Black Sheep Bill Ross Blown Away Alan Silvestri Bound By Honor Bill Conti Boys Stewart Copeland Boys And Girls Stewart Copeland Breakdown Basil Poledouris Bridges Of Madison County Lenny Niehaus Brokedown Palace David Newman Chances Are Maurice Jarre City Slickers Mark Shaiman City Slickers 2 Mark Shaiman The Client James Newton Howard Cocktail Maurice Jarre Crazy Horse Lennie Niehaus Dead Poets Society Maurice Jarre Defending Your Life Michael Gore Deuces Wild Stewart Copeland Dinosaur James Newton Howard Distant Thunder Maurice Jarre Dunston Checks In Miles Goodman End Of Days John Debney Enemies, A Love Story Maurice Jarre Far And Away John Williams Fatal Attraction Maurice Jarre Fearless Maurice Jarre A Few Good Men Mark Shaiman Fires Within Maurice Jarre Flags Of Our Fathers Clint Eastwood Freejack Trevor Jones FX 2 Lalo Schiffrin Getting Even With Dad Miles Goodman Ghost Maurice Jarre Ghost Dad Henry Mancini Ghosts Of The Abyss Joel McNeely Good Will Hunting Danny Elfman Gorillas In The Mist Maurice Jarre He Said, She Said Miles Goodman Heart And Souls Maurice Jarre Holes Joel McNeely Hulk Danny Elfman Indian In The Cupboard Miles Goodmam / Randy Edelman Indian Summer Miles Goodman Instinct Danny Elfman Iron Will Joel McNeely Jacobs Ladder Maurice Jarre
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