Relentlessly Percolating Bass Lines
At one point in time, the relentlessly percolating bass lines of Hartmut Hillmann defied categorization. So Hillmann started referring to it as “urban folk funk." It did not go over well. “That irritated critics and record companies so I stopped doing it," Hillmann revealed. An acclaimed six-string bass guitarist, Hillmann's distinct style is rooted both in German folk music and iconoclastic American jazz artists such as Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock. That international and generational mishmash fuels the frenzied energy of Point of View, the latest album from Hillmann and his band. On the record, Hillmann courageously wrecks the boundaries that separate traditional jazz from world and electronic music.
Hillmann was born in Germany in 1961. Even at a young age, Hillmann was already drawn to music. “I grew up with a lot of German folk and popular music," Hillmann recalled. “Though no one in my family played an instrument, my brother and I had a strong interest in music. And I remember my other singing all kinds of German songs all day long, and me 'playing' mouth-trumpet solos on family parties as a little child." Becoming a bassist was the end result of a gradual artistic development. “I started to sing those mouth trumpet solos around age five, switched to guitar at 15 and to bass guitar at 17. I started to play in bands in 1978 and moved to Mainz in 1981, where I got my first professional jobs with local jazz bands."
According to Hillmann, the jazz scene in Germany is still one that holds the genre's American origins with real affection. “In my opinion the jazz scene in Germany is dominated by some famous musicians like Till Brönner or Roger Cicero, who still imitate American idols like Chet Baker and Frank Sinatra and some entertainment-jazz musicians like Helge Schneider or Götz Alsmann," Hillmann revealed. Nevertheless, Hillmann added, “there is a rich tradition of free jazz from eastern Germany." In this collision of two worlds, Point of View finds itself directly in between. “I try to find my style influenced by the great American musicians, but without neglecting my German folk roots."