Chicago jazz bassist Karl E. H. Seigfried has received international recognition for his solo album CRIMINAL MASTERMIND, his trio album BOYKIN, SEIGFRIED, & REED and his quartet album BLUE RHIZOME. The first features original compositions for solo contrabass, and the last is a recording of the extended work he wrote for and performed with The New Quartet on a composition grant from Gallery 37.
Karl has performed on stage with a wide variety of major artists in modern jazz, including Fred Anderson, Jim Baker, Robert Barry, David Boykin, Anthony Davis, Henry Grimes, Fred Hopkins, Peter Kowald, George Lewis, Bobby McFerrin, and Roscoe Mitchell. His own groups have featured Ernest Dawkins, Jimmy Ellis, Aaron Getsug, Nicole Mitchell, Jeff Parker, Isaiah Spencer, and Avreeayl Ra. He has also played jazz bass onstage with Saturday Night Live's Martin Short.
PORTRAIT OF JACK JOHNSON is Karl's twelfth release, and features alto saxophonist Greg Ward and drummer Frank Rosaly - both major voices on the Chicago jazz scene of the 21st century.
At the core of the new release is THE BOXING BASSIST SUITE, which portrays three world champion boxers who also played the bass. Jack Johnson was the first African-American heavyweight champ and dominated the division from 1908-1915. Renowned for his brilliant and unpredictable style (both in and out of the ring), he loved to play bass for reporters and for patrons of his Chicago nightclub, Café de Champion. Archie Moore, known as "The Old Mongoose" for his wily ring smarts, won the light heavyweight championship in 1952 (at age 39), ruled for a decade, and holds an unbeatable record of 131 knockouts over a 28-year career. Moore was friends with jazz legends Oscar Pettiford and Lucky Thompson, and he regularly jammed with both of them. Ezzard Charles was heavyweight champ for a three-year period (1949-1951), held victories over three famous Joes (Louis, Walcott, and Maxim), and won three times against "The Old Mongoose." The New York Times wrote of his bass playing, “Ezz slaps it and bows it with the best of ‘em.”
The album also includes PORTRAITS IN JAZZ, a series of original jazz pieces that portray Malachi Favors, The Velvet Lounge, Thelonious Monk, Jimmy Cheatham, Mary Lou Williams, Fred Anderson, Roswell Rudd, and Sidney Bechet. Karl's music is true to the jazz tradition, yet melds it with modern elements to create original works of accessible originality.