Jazz Guitarist Tim Bowman: 'This is What I Hear'

Jazz guitarist Tim Bowman's single "Summer Groove" off his latest album, This is What I Hear has become his first number-one song on the charts. Equipped with guitar in studio, Bowman talks with Ed Gordon.

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ED GORDON, host:

Guitarist Tim Bowman's most recent CD, "This Is What I Hear," gives the listener a taste of many types of music. The song "Summer Groove" became Bowman's first number-one single. Not long ago, the Detroit native brought his guitar into the studios of member station WUOM in Ann Arbor. We talked about influences you might expect, like George Benson, and some you might not.

(Soundbite of guitar)

GORDON: Roy Clark is a bad boy, though.

Mr. TIM BOWMAN (Guitarist): Hey, bad. Like I say, if you know guitar, he is one of the best of our times, hands down. You know, I was a little too young to understand "Hee Haw," the jokes, you know. But I knew this guy could play. He could play banjo, mandolin, violin, you name it, gui--and was just an amazing string instrument aficionado.

(Soundbite of music)

GORDON: What was it about the guitar--or the guitar (pronounced GIT-ar)...

Mr. BOWMAN: Right. Guitar (pronounced GIT-ar).

GORDON: ...that attracted you?

Mr. BOWMAN: It's like, you know, I first heard it at church. There's this guy named Michael Features from Toledo. He was trying to date one of my eight sisters.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. BOWMAN: He would be like, `If you leave me alone so I can talk to your sister, I'll show you how to play the guitar.'

GORDON: You know what's interesting, particularly about black churches...

Mr. BOWMAN: Yes.

GORDON: ...is you do find all instrumentation in a black church.

Mr. BOWMAN: Yes, you do.

GORDON: And Detroit has been a true haven for great gospel music.

Mr. BOWMAN: Yes. And it's amazing, when you can look back, you know, at The Winans, the Clark Sisters, you know...

GORDON: Commissioned with Fred Hammond and Mike...

Mr. BOWMAN: Aretha Franklin, Commissioned, yeah. Now Fred Hammond. It's just on and on and on from Detroit. I'm still at the same church I was born in. And from day one, when I became aware of the music department, I was in that department at--in some way, either congo player or drummer or a bass guitar player. And it's always been gospel. And, you know, there's some great musicians in the world here, which are secular. But it's never been a battle. This is always where I've been.

(Soundbite of music)

GORDON: I'm curious. When you play the guitar, do you play it every day?

Mr. BOWMAN: Yes. Yeah.

GORDON: Do you just play with it at times, just strum? And when you do, and you get something that you like, a riff you like, can you remember it...

Mr. BOWMAN: It's enough...

GORDON: ...and utilize it later?

Mr. BOWMAN: That, what you said, is the exact way I write a song. You know, you have practice time where you just practice on your scales.

(Soundbite of guitar)

Mr. BOWMAN: Then you have TV time, where you're watching television and you just, you know...

(Soundbite of guitar)

Mr. BOWMAN: ...and you're just playing around with it. Those are the times when I write. Like I'm sitting there watching a television program or whatever and I'll hit...

(Soundbite of guitar)

Mr. BOWMAN: ...a chord progression. I say, `Oh, oh, that's nice,' you know.

(Soundbite of guitar)

Mr. BOWMAN: And to me, what I found out, if it's a good song, you'll remember it the next day.

(Soundbite of music)

GORDON: Now I'm curious; you have had off of this latest CD a number-one single.

Mr. BOWMAN: Yes.

GORDON: "Summer Groove" is the name of it. I would suspect all musicians aspire to that. When you heard--when you got the call and looked at Billboard or however you found out it was number one, what was your thought?

Mr. BOWMAN: Stunned, honestly stunned for days. At first I was just speechless, you know. Everything's just going through my mind: `I can't believe this, you know. This is unreal,' you know. Like you said, every musician, they want to have something that is commercially accepted. You know what I'm saying? So, you know, Top 10 is great, but when they called and told me it was number one, that was just...

(Soundbite of music)

GORDON: So can you show me how would construct a summer groove? I mean, when you think about that, did you--what did you hear first in that record?

Mr. BOWMAN: This is what I first heard.

(Soundbite of guitar)

Mr. BOWMAN: That's wha--watching television I heard that. Then the next part was...

(Soundbite of guitar)

Mr. BOWMAN: Then we put them all together. I love the guitar, and I love the creative process, you know. The older you get, the less you like rehearsing and traveling so much, but the music, I love it. And just, you know, you start hearing these things and you want to get together with the fellas and put it together.

GORDON: All right. Well, Tim Bowman, the new CD is called "This Is What I Hear." Features Vickie Winans, Marvin Winans, Rance Allen, and--not to be left out--we should note that Nelson Rangell, another fine musician...

Mr. BOWMAN: Excellent.

GORDON: ...is on this. And you already had a number-one single, and anyone who loves good singing and good guitar playing--guitar (pronounced GIT-ar) playing...

Mr. BOWMAN: Gee-tar.

GORDON: ...should pick this up. Could you please play us out a little bit here?

Mr. BOWMAN: Sure, sure.

(Soundbite of guitar)

GORDON: All right. Tim Bowman. Thank you very much, man.

Mr. BOWMAN: Thank you.

(Credits)

GORDON: NEWS & NOTES was created by NPR News and the African-American Public Radio Consortium.

I'm Ed Gordon. This is NEWS & NOTES.

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