Karl E. H. Seigfried

Primary Instrument: Bass

Born: March 8, 1973    


Karl E. H. Seigfried is a critically-acclaimed bassist and guitarist deeply involved in Chicago music scene. He has performed and recorded in virtually all musical styles - jazz and classical, country and rock, traditional and avant-garde.

As a bandleader and composer, Karl has led groups featuring Ernest Dawkins, Jimmy Ellis, Nicole Mitchell and Jeff Parker. His recordings as a leader feature the best of Chicago's Young Lions, including Frank Rosaly and Greg Ward.

Karl has performed duets with Bobby McFerrin, Fred Hopkins, Peter Kowald and Nik Turner and played in ensembles fronted by Roscoe Mitchell, Fred Anderson, Henry Grimes, George Lewis and Bertram Turetzky...
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Jazziz Editor's Choice - Top 10 Album of 2010 (Portrait of Jack Johnson)

DownBeat Four Stars (Portrait of Jack Johnson)

JazzEd New Notable CD Release (Portrait of Jack Johnson)

New York City Jazz Record Editor's Recommended New Release (Portrait of Jack Johnson)

Bass Musician Magazine New and Noteworthy CD Release (Portrait of Jack Johnson)

Diversity in Business Musical Pick of the Season (Portrait of Jack Johnson)

2007 Gallery 37/Downtown Sound Gallery (Chicago)
Composition/performance grant for Blue Rhizome

2006 WNUR-FM (Chicago) Jazz Show
Top 30 by airplay for the year (Criminal Mastermind)
Top 40 by DJ vote for the year (Criminal Mastermind)

2004 WNUR-FM (Chicago) Jazz Show
Top 20 by airplay for the year (Boykin, Seigfried, & Reed)

2003 Austin Chronicle Music Poll
Top 5 Swing Group (Lucky Strikes)
Top 5 Latin Group (Cubano Bop)

2002 Austin Chronicle Music Poll
Top 10 Jazz Group (Sarah Sharp Jazz Quintet)

1995 Jazz Society of Southern California
Jazz Award

1994 Clark Terry International Institute of Jazz Studies
Outstanding Bassist Award
  • BUY

    Karl 2000

    Self Produced
  • BUY

    Portrait Of Jack Johnson

    Unit Records
  • BUY

    Karl E. H. Seigfried: Portrait Of Jack Johnson

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    Blue Rhizome

    Imaginary Chicago Records
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    Criminal Mastermind

    Unit Records
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Bobby McFerrin and Karl E. H. Seigfried
"Blue Monk"

Karl E. H. Seigfried - bass
Bobby McFerrin - vocals

Nik Turner and Karl E. H. Seigfried
"One for Lok"

Karl E. H. Seigfried - bass and percussion
Nik Turner - saxophone

Peter Kowald and Karl E. H. Seigfried

Karl E. H. Seigfried - bass
Peter Kowald - bass

Night Flyer

Karl E. H. Seigfried - bass and guitar
Bridget Wishart - vocals and EWI
Detlev Everling - keyboard, horn and drum programming

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Featured recording “Karl 2000”

Latest Release

Karl 2000

Self Produced (2012)

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A prolific, genre-defying Chicago musician working in and beyond the jazz, rock and classical idioms.
Chicago Weekly

Seigfried has formed collaborations that celebrate diversity and high-level musicianship.
Jazz Institute of Chicago Jazzgram

Seigfried’s got a clear, ringing tone and executes ideas exuberantly.
Madison Isthmus

Jazz fans will recognize Dr. Karl E. H. Seigfried from his tenure on acoustic double bass but will be entertained to see his wizardry on electric guitar.
Centerstage Chicago

Some of the innovative jazz musicians who have come to public attention since the early 1990s are David Boykin, Karl E...

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Primary InstrumentBass

LocationEvanston, IL

Willing to teachBeginners

Credentials/BackgroundAfter earning degrees in Music Performance from University of California-San Diego and University of Wisconsin-Madison, Karl received his doctorate from University of Texas-Austin. His doctoral dissertation - "At Once Old-Timey and Avant-Garde": The Innovation and Influence of Wilbur Ware - remains the only scholarly work on the great Chicago bassist and was recently cited in Robin D. G. Kelley's Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original.

Through two of his bass teachers - New Music innovator Bertram Turetzky and jazz legend Richard Davis - Karl's lineage as a performer and pedagogue can be traced back through David Walter, Frederick Zimmermann, Hermann Reinshagen, Ludwig Manoly, Franz Simandl and Josef Hrabe to Wenzel Hause (1764-1847) of the Prague Conservatory, founder of the Prague School of double bass playing and teacher of the first-ever double bass class.

While living in San Diego, Karl studied with Carol Kaye, the legendary Los Angeles studio bassist of the 1960s who was a top bebop guitarist in the 1940s and 1950s. The late great Jimmy Cheatham was a beloved mentor - Karl was a featured soloist in his student ensembles at the University of California for several years. Also at UCSD, Karl performed in the improvisation ensemble led by Anthony Davis and worked on an independent study with George Lewis on the history of the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians).

Karl teaches private lessons on both bass and guitar. His students have had great success in local and regional orchestra auditions - as well as performing at a high level in jazz combos and big bands - and won scholarships to prestigious university music programs. If you are interested in taking lessons in the Chicago area, you can reach him through the contact page at his website.

In addition to studying music, Karl earned a degree in literature (English, American and German) from University of California-San Diego and studied literature and art at Loyola University Chicago's Rome Center in Italy. His work as a Norse mythologist is featured at The Norse Mythology Blog.


Carthage College
Bass & Guitar Faculty

Loyola University Chicago - Continuum
Music & History Faculty

Newberry Library Seminars Program
Literature Faculty


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Velvet Strings

1890s Rubner Contrabass (The Rubner Rune Bass)
1980 Kramer Vanguard Bass Guitar
1966 Fender Mustang Fretless Bass Guitar
Epiphone Longhorn Bass Guitar
Ace Frehley Epiphone Les Paul Guitar
Taylor Koa Acoustic Guitar
Melobar Rattler Lap Steel Guitar
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