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Karl E. H. Seigfried
Born March 8, 1973(1973-03-08)
Origin United States Evanston, Illinois, USA
Genres Jazz, Rock, Classical
Occupations Bassist, Guitarist, Tubist, Composer, Bandleader, Educator
Instruments Double bass, Electric bass, Acoustic guitar, Electric guitar, Lap steel guitar, Tuba
Years active 1993 - Current
Labels Imaginary Chicago Records
Associated acts Chicago Sinfonietta, Peoria Symphony Orchestra, Rockford Symphony Orchestra
Website Official website

Karl E. H. Seigfried (born 8 March 1973) is a German-American jazz, rock, and classical bassist, guitarist, composer, bandleader, and educator based in Chicago.

Seigfried has performed and taught on the double bass "in virtually all musical styles - from classical to avant garde jazz."[1] His projects in Chicago and his wide-ranging collaborations have largely been centered on an effort to promote multiculturalism in music.[2] Critics have compared his double bass approach to those of Malachi Favors, Henry Grimes, Charlie Haden,[3] Charles Mingus,[4 ] and Sirone.[5]



In his role as jazz bassist, Seigfried is one of the innovative Chicago jazz musicians who have come to public attention since the early 1990s; this new generation (including David Boykin, Jeff Parker, and Jim Baker) "embraces a wide variety of styles and techniques."[6] Seigfried has performed with a broad range of modern jazz performers, including Jim Baker, Robert Barry, Anthony Davis, Jimmy Ellis, Henry Grimes, Peter Kowald, and Bobby McFerrin. Although not a member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, Seigfried has performed with members from all generations of the Chicago organization, including Fred Anderson, Ajaramu, David Boykin, Ernest Dawkins, Fred Hopkins, Aaron Getsug, George Lewis, Nicole Mitchell, Roscoe Mitchell, Jeff Parker, Avreeayl Ra, and Isaiah Spencer. He currently leads the New Quartet, the Seigfried Trio, and the Galaxy String Quartet.

In the classical world, Seigfried is member of the Chicago Sinfonietta, and performed with them for collaborations with Poi Dog Pondering and Muddy Waters guitarist John Primer; he is also featured as Principal Bassist of the Chicago Sinfonietta Chamber Ensemble. He plays Principal Bass for the Peoria Symphony Orchestra, where he has led the bass section behind soloists Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Evelyn Glennie, Hilary Hahn, Sharon Isbin, Yo-Yo Ma, Mark O'Connor, and Itzhak Perlman.[7] He is a member of the Rockford Symphony Orchestra, often playing principal, jazz, and electric bass for the group, and he plays Principal Bass for the Erato Chamber Orchestra. He also played bass for the Chicago premieres of both the Lord of the Rings Symphony and the Music of Final Fantasy.

In rock, Seigfried is a co-founder of Thunor, a project with Alan Davey, frontman of the British group Hawkwind; the band performs a mixture of British psychedelia and Chicago-style jazz and metal.[8] Seigfried fronts the Soul Power Trio and is a member of both the hip hop group Now's Disciples and the alternative country band the Lost Cartographers.[9] He is a member of the space rock supergroup Spirits Burning, which features members of Hawkwind, Citizen Fish, Gong, Psychic TV, and Jefferson Starship; their psychedelic cover of "Ace of Spades" (featuring Hawkwind vocalist Bridget Wishart) was included on the 2008 Motörhead tribute album "Sheep in Wolves' Clothing."[10]


Seigfried's recordings include the trio album, Boykin, Seigfried, & Reed; the album of solo bass, Criminal Mastermind; and the work for mixed quartet, Blue Rhizome, all of which feature his original compositions.[11] The recording by the trio (with saxophonist David Boykin and drummer Mike Reed) has been described as "the true definition of the Chicago avant-garde. Their music sometimes floats calmly like a river and sometimes swings with great violence."[12] The solo recording demonstrates that Seigfried's "musical influences, as heard in his playing, are many and varied: the listener will detect styles such as jazz, classical, old guitar-based rural blues (think Robert Johnson), perhaps even traditional Japanese music."[4 ] Of the quartet recording, "ein grosses Thema des Albums auch in musikalischer Hinsicht ist das Überschreiten von Grenzen und das Hinterfragen der eigenen Werturteile"("a large theme of the album, also in a musical respect, is the transcending of borders and the questioning of our own value judgements").[13]

Writing & Teaching

Seigfried holds a doctorate in Double Bass Performance, and his treatise on Wilbur Ware is the only scholarly work on the African-American Chicago bassist.[14] His teachers included Jimmy Cheatham, Richard Davis, Carol Kaye, and Bertram Turetzky. Seigfried is currently working with Bertram Turetzky on the pioneering double bassist's autobiography, and he is a long-time writer on boxing for East Side Boxing.[15] He is Bass Faculty at St. Xavier University and Trinity Christian College, Bass & Guitar Faculty at the Music Institute of Chicago and Carthage College, and Instructor in Music History & Theory at Loyola University Chicago's School of Continuing and Professional Studies;[16] he previously held faculty positions at Knox College, Rock Valley College, and Western Illinois University.[17]

Partial Discography

As a Sideman:

  • E.C.F.A. (with Peter Kowald) (2000, Pull the String)
  • A Madison Christmas (with Madison Symphony Orchestra) (2004, ION)
  • Live at the Spareroom (with Microcosmic Sound Orchestra) (2005, SHM)
  • Sheep in Wolves' Clothing (with Spirits Burning) (2008, MHB)
  • Walk On (with The Lost Cartographers) (2009, Imaginary Chicago)

As Leader:

  • Boykin, Seigfried, & Reed (2004, Imaginary Chicago)
  • Criminal Mastermind (2006, Imaginary Chicago)
  • The New Quartet: Blue Rhizome (2008, Imaginary Chicago)



  1. ^ Jazz Review article
  2. ^ Chicago Weekly article
  3. ^ Cadence Magazine, March 2007, p113.
  4. ^ a b Bass World, Vol.31, No. 1, 2007.
  5. ^ Cadence Magazine, November 2004, p40.
  6. ^ Reverend Al Sharpton, Michigan Avenue Magazine, Fall 2008, p298.
  7. ^ Peoria Symphony Orchestra website
  8. ^ Alan Davey website
  9. ^ Cartographers website
  10. ^ Spirits Burning website
  11. ^ All About Jazz discography (incomplete)
  12. ^ After Hours (Japan), No. 20, 2005.
  13. ^ Aufabwegen Magazin, July 2008
  14. ^ "At Once Old-Timey & Avant-Garde: The Innovation & Influence of Wilbur Ware"
  15. ^ East Side Boxing article archive
  16. ^ Chicago Magazine, August 2007, p90.
  17. ^ Music Institute of Chicago website

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