Dr. Karl E. H. Seigfried has performed and taught on the double bass "in virtually all musical styles - from classical to avant garde jazz." His projects in Chicago and his wide-ranging collaborations have largely been centered on an effort to promote multiculturalism in music. Critics have compared his double bass approach to those of Malachi Favors, Henry Grimes, Charlie Haden, Charles Mingus, and Sirone.
In his role as jazz bassist, Seigfried has performed with a wide variety 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 in the orchestra's chamber ensembles. 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, and Itzhak Perlman. He is a member of the Rockford Symphony Orchestra, and often plays principal, jazz, and electric bass for the group. 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. 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. 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 Motorhead tribute album "Sheep in Wolves' Clothing."
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. 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." 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."
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. 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. He is Bass & Guitar Faculty at the Music Institute of Chicago, Bass Faculty at St. Xavier University, Instructor in Music History & Theory at Loyola University Chicago's School of Continuing and Professional Studies, and Lecturer in Jazz History at Kennedy-King College; he previously held faculty positions at Knox College, Rock Valley College, and Western Illinois University.
Karl is collaborating with the British illustrator Boo Cook on a performance which will happen at Elastic Sound & Vision Gallery on October 3. Boo Cook will be creating a new graphic work in real time as Chicago contrabassist Karl E. H. Seigfried improvises a new musical work for solo bass, at Elastic Sound & Vision Gallery on October 3. Cook has discovered a way to attach a camera to his pen for a super-close-up view of his drawing technique; live video of Cook's active drawing will be streamed from the UK and projected on a screen behind Seigfried as he plays live in Chicago. For a sampling of Cook's innovative artwork, visit http://boocook.com/. For audio samples of Seigfried's solo bass work, please visit http://cdbaby.com/cd/seigfried.