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Alumni Profile: Musician Jim Tisdall 71F

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Jim Tisdall's 71F only requirement when laying down tracks for his album, Three Men in a Boat, was that it was fun for all the musicians. Playing guitar with blues and roots musician David Bromberg, also on guitar, and jazz great Tyrone Brown on bass, culminated in an album that "inhabits blues and jazz, with a little swing, and a little country," Tisdall says, adding that it was a wonderful experience. This CD is also the start of several future projects in music and performance.

Tisdall began playing guitar at age 12, was teaching and performing by 13, and spent many years as a full-time musician before taking a job at Bell Labs working with digital sound creator Max Mathews. "I'm always thinking about music," Tisdall says.

Despite giving up the life of a full-time musician—he had played with artists from the Velvet Underground's Nico to the James Cotton Blues Band, along with performing solo—Tisdall has continued writing, teaching, and playing music, and has published biology textbooks and several poems.

In Wilmington, DE, Tisdall met Bromberg, a Grammy-nominated blues, roots, and folk guitarist who has played on more than 100 albums with artists such as Bob Dylan and George Harrison. Tisdall joined Bromberg's informal jam sessions, became friends with the guitar virtuoso, and asked Bromberg to collaborate on an album.

Through friends, Tisdall met Brown, who played for 20 years with Grammy-winning drummer Max Roach, and who agreed to come on board the project.

The three musicians spent a few days rehearsing and recording together.  "You know things are going well when it is not taking you forever to get down some tracks," says Tisdall. The result is 11 tracks of "relaxed, floating music," he says. "I think you hear that when you listen to the album."

Currently Tisdall works at DuPont as a research scientist in Genetic Discovery and says that it seems a little odd that he now works in biology, a subject he studied his first year at Hampshire. In the works are a couple of solo albums, and a project to capture each string on his electric Gittler guitar separately and use a computer to create compositions from those sounds. Tisdall says, "I'm trying to make a CD of good music that incorporates novel sounds based on the guitar's natural sounds."

Tisdall's CD can be sampled at


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