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Bass Musician Magazine: Feb/Mar 2010 Featuring Jonas Hellborg

jonas hellborgHis musical endeavors wove him through a myriad of musical styles, from his efforts on one of his earlier CD’s The Word featuring his work with drummer Tony Williams and a string quartet, to projects such as Zenhouse displaying his Eastern influences. He then continued on working in various fusion (in the true sense of the word) projects, one of them being the entity Artmetal, a blend of Southern Indian classical music with math-metal elements (interesting), right up to his work on Beethoven’s concerto for piano, violin, and cello, replacing violin and cello with guitar and bass. I also found it refreshing that he spends part of his musical time working on pieces by Bach and Mozart, and his only musical need is to perform them by himself, for himself in his living room.

This is what I’m referring to when I speak in terms of a 21st Century context. This type of non-prejudicial musical openness is at the heart of some of the finest voices I hear in music to date. Armed with his Warwick signature bass, he continues to leap genres with grace and an obvious respect for each of them, and after speaking with him, I have no doubt that this individuals mantra centers around music for music’s sake.

Jake: I know your earlier work in the seventies with John McLaughlin was a big turning point for you. Can you tell me something about what was happening for you at that time?

Jonas: It wasn’t such a turning point in terms of musical direction or bass playing actually, it was more a career turning point. It was a time of more recognition and acknowledgement of work that I’d already done. I was able to step into the limelight a bit more, and play the type of music I had been working on for quite awhile. It wasn’t really that earth shaking in terms of changing my direction, or learning a new stuff. Leading up to that, I had really worked hard on different things like chords on bass. The original inspiration was Colin Hodgkinson from Backdoor who I had heard in the mid seventies, and he really inspired me to start to explore that technique. So I was really working very hard on getting that together. And then I sort of stumbled into the slap thing, very leisurely, and that sort of developed very quickly and naturally for me. At the same time, I was already into Indian music. I didn’t know much about it at the time. I was very inspired by the sound of tabla, for instance, and that kind of inspired my slap technique quite a bit.

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