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Hartmut Hillmann's six-string bass guitar playing ignites new album
(Published: August 22, 2011)

August 21, 2011 (Frankfurt, Germany) Written by Robert Sutton. Hartmut Hillmann is among Germany's most prolific six-string bass guitar players; he is also one of their finest.

On his latest album Point of View, Hillmann's bass slithers and rattles like a caged serpent; in his hands the bass functions not just as an instrument but like a weapon of mass destruction, shooting off throbbing, floor-shaking grooves that unite the technical precision of jazz with the relentless rhythms of funk.

Sharply supported by keyboardist Joe Hain and percussionists Klaus "Nirjan" Frölich and Nagaswaran "Warren" Wunderlich, Hillmann opts for a progressive, decidedly European take on jazz, incorporating elements of world and electronic music. On "Keep It Simple!", Hillmann's thumping bass literally jumps out of the speakers while lively keyboards and tumbling percussion provide a rock-solid foundation. "Mad World" is barely recognizable at first as Hillmann's high-speed bass lines create a sweltering atmosphere but then everything chills out for a dreamy rendition of Tears for Fears' early ‘80s classic. On "Euphomism," Hillmann echoes the Drum and Bass sounds that ignited British clubs in the early ‘90s.

According to Hillmann, his earliest musical experiences had little to do with jazz. "I grew up with a lot of German folk and pop music," he recalled. "Though no one in my family played an instrument, I and my brother had a strong interest into music. And I remember my mother singing all kinds of German songs all day long, and me ‘playing' mouth-trumpet solos on family parties as a little child."

A startling fact about Hillmann is that his musical education was largely based on independent means. "I'm mainly self-taught since I lived at the countryside, where no music teacher could be found," he revealed. "At age 17 I got my first bass lessons by a bass player in a town some 100 km away. I had to travel Saturdays by hitchhiking and train to a jazz course in Bingen. I listened to Jaco Pastorius' debut album and was blown away. My teacher couldn't show me to play like that, so I had to keep listening and playing by ear. I went to the Frankfurter Musikwerkstatt to study jazz, but since I was the only bass player, they had no teacher for me. I did band workshops with Jean-Francoise Jenny-Clarke (bass), Peter Giger (drums), and Albert Mangelsdorff (trombone)."

More Information: http://hartmuthillmannband.com

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