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23 Apr 2016

Unforgettable People (LII): Martin Tillman

"On the show, a very special guest. From Zurich, Switzerland. On cello, an incredible musician... Mr. Martin Tillman!!!" Elton proudly said on the 60th Anniversary special concert. Davey Johnstone explained he met Tillman "working on a movie score (An Everlasting Piece movie, by Barry Levinson) with Hans Zimmer in 2000, I used him (Martin) on Elton's 60th at MSG, on Nigel Olsson's solo japanese album that I produced with Guy Babylon" while adding "He is a dear friend and amazing musician". No discussion. In fact, this talented musician is considered the creator of a revolutionary sound by extending the traditional boundaries of the cello. He has also established himself in the motion picture and recording world as one of the most sought after talents of experimental acoustic and electric cello. Tillman, also has credits on "Peachtree Road", Elton's 2004 self produced album.

"To be asked to be a special musical guest for his 60ties birthday was incredible. Madison gardens was an unforgettable moment" reminds Tillman. Sure it was. Since arriving in US in 1988, he developed his studies with the internationally celebrated cellist, Lynn Harrell, receiving his Masters Degree in Performance from the University of Southern California, in 1989. Harrell, for the ones doesn't know, is one of the world's finest cellists, a live legend at the Aspen Music Festival, where he has spent his summers performing and teaching for nearly 50 years. He is also the recipient of numerous awards including the Piatigorsky Award, and the Ford Foundation Concert Artists' Award. "He was the best teacher with the the most amazing sound!" added Tillman.

In his career, Tillman has collaborated with other rellevant and well known musicians related to Elton: James Newton-Howard and Hans Zimmer. Precisely, about his skills, Zimmer explained the challenge, for the soundtrack "The Dark Knight", to represent The Joker character by an only single note played on the cello: "You know within one note that it’s him. I really wanted to do the whole thing just with one note". Only one could get it: Martin Tillman, the one "who’s studied his whole life to make a gorgeous sound out of the cello". This is one of the most fruitful collaborations started when he recorded with Hans Zimmer on the Tony Scott movie The Fan. Since then, Tillman has been given the chance to compose and perform for scores such as the last three Batman movies, Total Recall, Bullet to the Head, The Oscars 2012, Life in a Day, Cowboys and Aliens, Angels and Demons, Prince of Persia, Pirates of the Caribbean 1-4, Black Hawk Down, Da Vinci code, The Pledge, Everlasting Piece, Mission Impossible 2, Hannibal, The Ring parts one and two… the list is endless.

"Martin Tillman is quite simply the most gifted musician I have ever had the privileged to record with. In our recordings his extraordinary performances elevated my music I only heard in my dreams..." explained to AllSongsList the greatest Michael Hoppe when he was asked to collaborate on the Weekend.  Tillman performed cello solos on The Poet, composed by Michael Hoppe, and Afterglow composed and performed by Michael Hoppe, Tim Wheater, plus Tillman. "Martin is in a class by himself" concludes. Also Adam Chester agreed to collaborate on the weekend, explaining: "He's a joy to work with. We've done some composing in the studio for a movie that didn't come to be. But the music we wrote is very special and I hope to find a home for it one day", and adds near this: "Well, If I may paraphrase a lyric from a song by America, "No Oz never did give nothing to Mar-tin man, that he didn't, didn't already have." Martin is a not only a whiz at playing cello. He's a beautiful soul who's cello merely manifests what he feels inside. Does that make sense? Corny, I'm sure, but I love that guy. I love Eva too!" The wonderful Eva Tillman, apart from being Martin's wife, helps on the website and social networks.

Tillman has been invited to perform with many renowned recording artists including, apart from Elton John, Sting, T Bone Burnett, Alison Krauss, Elvis Costello, Beck, BB King, Air Supply and Tracy Chapman, among many others. Asking about Elton, he says: "I had several chances to meet him (Elton). In the studio recording strings .... I believe it was in Hollywood. I am surprised at his incredible power on stage ..... unstoppable". Oh, and if you had to choose one of Elton's songs, what do you said? My favourite Elton's track? "Levon".

Davey Johnstone, Elton's guitarrist and musical director, remarks "Martin is a phenomenal player and a very spiritual guy" while explaining they met each other "We had lunch in Malibu a few weeks ago and he gave me a few CDs of Superhuman. It's rocking!". Tillman has been focusing his creative energy on his own compositions and recording projects, and the result is his last cd, Superhuman, dedicated to Eva "to the love of my life". Previous albums by Martin Tillman were Eastern Twin (Rounders) and Cinematic Volunteer composed and produced by Martin Tillman and Tom Vedvik. His previous solo Cd was a very well received solo cello/piano album “A Year in Zurich” in where he both performs cello and piano.

Currently, he is planning some fun shows next year, in Europe, with the Superhuman Band, 30 cellos, and a multimedia show with a ballerina and a breakdancer. Other formats of the show are available with just a five piece rock band, with the inclusion of beautiful soul voices and dancers or solo with a DJ, for all kind of venues. Entertainment is guaranteed.

More info:

official website
on twitter @martincello
on instagram martin_tillman
on facebook martintillmanmusic

Special agreement to Adam Chester and Michael Hoppe who agreed to collaborate on the weekend. Yours are very touchful words for a genious we all love. Thanks for being here (Miquel)

Photo by Dennis Mukai

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