2012 Top Jazz Beyond Jazz Recordings
Howard Mandel, author of Future Jazz

Best CDs of 2012
Four-Star Review
Weston's ferocity on drums and synths percolates through the slinker "The Stumper," while the rapid-fire waltz "Byrdland" is another feature with co-writer/guitarist Karl E. H. Seigfried, this time on electric bass.
DownBeat Magazine

The result is a set that really breathes life into the jazz-rock canon, precisely by showing how rich it can be when its blues-rock quotient stays to the fore. The sheer imagination and virtuosity of those playing it is neither reined in to conservatism nor pushed out to self-indulgent bombast. It has to be said that bassist Karl E.H. Seigfried does a fine job as Weston’s co-conspirator, shoring up the rhythm section and sharing writing credits to match-winning effect.
Echoes Magazine (England)

Another word must also be said for Karl Seigfried's excellent work on guitar and bass on all tracks, it is he and Weston who provide the sure base from which the soloing takes centre stage. If you are a fan of jazz, or you have been intrigued by what you've heard and what to find out more about this vast world, then Of Alien Feelings is a great place to start.
Dutch Progressive Rock Page (Netherlands)

A peppery melange of funk-tinged boogie, groovesome, jazzy extemporisation and a gratifying tendency to rock out when required. Its 12 tracks are co-composed by Karl E. H. Seigfried, who features prominently on numerous acoustic and electric stringed instruments. Proffering some delightfully glistening lap steel and bracing slide work, the upbeat, double harmony work could easily fit on an Allman Brothers record.
Prog Rock Magazine (England)

Drummer Calvin Weston does not hail from Chicago, but his new album bears undoubtedly the mark of local bass player Karl E. H. Seigfried, who also displays his wonderful chops on guitar. Of Alien Feelings includes a surprising cast. Jack Walrath, Todd Rundgren, Vernon Reid, or Supertramp’s John Helliwell have never been seen sharing credits before. The brand of fusion the band purveys owes more to Frank Zappa or prog rock than to Weather Report or Mahavishnu Orchestra. And Weston’s rock-steady beats and Seigfried’s flamboyance makes it a fun ride.
Jazz Institute of Chicago Jazzgram

Of Alien Feelings reminds me of some of the great music of the '60s and '0s with a modern twist. Visions of Iron Butterfly, Jefferson Airplane and some of the other great bands come to mind, all with a taste of jazz mixed in. Backed by a solid rhythm section consisting of both electric and upright bass and some fine improv, this release really stands out. Of Alien Feelings is a release different from the rest and is a listening pleasure you won’t regret.
Bass Frontiers Magazine

Ornette Prime Time drummer's gutsy jazz / rock / R&B band is rammed with reluctant cult heroes, Todd Rundgren and Vernon Reid among them.
Jazzwise Magazine (England)


New Notable Music Release

New and Noteworthy CD Release
Bass Musician Magazine

Jazz freaks and hep cats should check it out!
Boxing Monthly (England)

Four-Star Review
Seigfried recorded Portrait of Jack Johnson partly as a [Sonny] Sharrock-related guitarist. The three-part Boxing Bassist Suite is often tied together with off-beat and slap bass from the Roaring Twenties and bridges the gap to today's improvisation. Like Mingus, the bassist dominates the pulse with a lot of punch, yet interacts alertly with the drummer Rosaly.
Jazz 'n' More (Switzerland)

Editor's Choice - Top Ten Album of 2010
Through his spirited musical interactions with alto saxophonist Greg Ward and drummer Frank Rosaly, Seigfried manages to evoke Johnson’s ring unpredictability, Moore’s wily nature and Charles’ raw power.
Jazziz Magazine

Four-Star Review
A delightful, interpretative survey of signatures and styles, all of it engaging and personable, not to mention a showcase for Seigfried’s solid grasp of the music’s history.
DownBeat Magazine

Editor's Recommended New Release
[Seigfried and Ward] spring from the same Chicago scene that orbited around Fred Anderson and the Velvet Lounge. Seigfried’s compositions are straightahead as well, built around fresh rhythmic invention based on familiar themes, original bluesy bass vamps and the industry of his sidemen. The tastiest cuts are those that feature Seigfried’s overdubbed guitar (“Spheroid” and “Roswell”) as well as the Bechet tribute “Treat It Gentle,” where the trio syncopates and slow-drags the song all the way back to New Orleans’ golden age.
New York City Jazz Record

Karl Seigfried is one of those Chicago presences that helps make the city a great one for jazz. Highly recommended.
Cadence Magazine

Chicago bassist and composer Karl E. H. Seigfried's winning new CD Portrait of Jack Johnson is a bracing workout for a lean trio. The title refers to an impressive suite inspired by three boxers who also played bass. Loose and limber, the music swings joyously, connecting the dots through a continuum from slap-bass two-beat grooves to open, bluesy post-bop that sometimes sneaks over the border into a witty, disciplined free jazz.
Detroit Free Press

[Seigfried] has a big, rotund sound with real drive in his walking lines, and in the context of a bare bones trio such as this, every note that he plays resonates loud and clear. It’s a spirited session that becomes progressively more interesting. Everything gallops along smartly, and Seigfried in particular makes his presence felt through some lightning subdivisions of the beat and nifty turnarounds.
Jazzwise Magazine (England)

Seigfried is an obvious talent. With plenty of pluck, deep, nimble nuances and good compositional imagination, it sounds like Seigfried is getting into shape for challenging the elite ranks himself.
The Ring Magazine (“The Bible of Boxing”)

[Seigfried] makes music the way a good DJ spins vinyl, harvesting elements from history and putting them together in new ways. But the result is beautiful and deep, never aloof or cynical. This is exactly the kind of jazz I like to listen to: virtuosic, groovy, interactive, purposeful, and clear. The level of playing is consistently high, and the small-group setting, with the notable lack of a chordal instrument, gives everybody plenty of space to explore. Dr. Seigfried’s sound is big and round, evocative of the old-school big-sound players from generations ago.
Bass World (Magazine of the International Society of Bassists)

A great, approachable collection of original works combined with a unique and interesting storyline from an all-star Chicago trio.
Bass Frontiers Magazine

Seigfried has been a steady presence on the Chicago music scene, working in classical settings, avant-garde groupings and rock-leaning projects, and these experiences all play a part in this group's unique sound. With Portrait of Jack Johnson, Karl E. H. Seigfried has managed to pay tribute to some key figures in boxing and music, while creating some songs that can be appreciated by a wide range of jazz fans, regardless of the extent of their pugilistic knowledge.
All About Jazz

On the jaunty title track, the bassist alternately slaps his upright in Pops Foster fashion and lays down deep walking tones beneath Ward’s fluid alto work — think Charlie Haden with Ornette Coleman. The second-line groover “The Old Mongoose” (for Moore), shuffling “Ezzard” and earthy 12-bar blues “Up From Mississippi” (for Favors) are fueled by the bassist’s humungous tones. And “Mr. Anderson” is Seigfried’s moving, unaccompanied homage to the late Chicago saxophonist and scene-builder.
JazzTimes Magazine

Musical Pick of the Season
It turns out the ring-sport is just one of the touch points of the African-American experience that fascinates Seigfried; music is another. Seigfried’s composition evokes much of the creativity, confidence and physical prowess displayed throughout Johnson's career and life. Seigfried mixes in just enough attitude, unconventionality and sass to remind the listener that Johnson was no angel. His rhythms and riffs reflect the heavyweight’s masculinity and skill, while the melodies underscore the complexities of a life that was at once commanding and heartbreaking. It is an important work that is both flavorful and satisfying.
Diversity in Business

Seigfried’s improvisations are meandering, complex and thought provoking like long yet engaging works of poetry. This is especially showcased on “Mr. Anderson,” where his bass solo is reminiscent of the tenor saxophone solos Fred Anderson used to take, both in its expansiveness and intensity. This is a CD that is as varied and as colorful as the people to whom it is dedicated, and the high level of musicianship paints an exciting and unique portrait of its creators.
Chicago Jazz Magazine

Seigfried also knows how to dig deep into a topic, and while this record divides neatly into two parts that pay homage to different sides of his personal jazz iconography, they are united by the imperative to swing.
Jazz Institute of Chicago Jazzgram

On Portrait of Jack Johnson, veteran Chicago jazz bassist/guitarist Karl E. H. Seigfried creates original instrumentals that deftly explore traditional and avant-garde jazz.
Illinois Entertainer

Seigfried's career integrates musical genres and erases musical boundaries. Considering his resume, an ode to boxing bassists isn't unusual at all.
Peoria Journal-Star

A spunky, sparky, and wholly delightful album. Seigfried has plenty of chops as well, but his style depends more on his love of his instrument’s history, from the Swing Era to the present: fiddle slaps of the '30s vie with cool-earth melodies of the '50s in his playing, while his leadership of a pianoless trio speaks to more recent developments. Seigfried wrote all the compositions, which comprise tributes to other musicians, such figures as trombonist Roswell Rudd and the late Fred Anderson - cameo gems in a valuable new collection.
Neil Tesser / Examiner


Organic and coherent to the novice and the aficionado alike.
Chicago Weekly

From Chicago comes yet another collective filled with imagination and purpose.
Cadence Magazine

A varied document this, encompassing Celtic-tinged jazz, jazz rock, hard rock and a couple of pastoral pieces where Raz shines. All the group members are very strong. Recommended to jazz fans bored by conventional jazz categories.
The Improvisor

The New Quartet expertly and seamlessly glides through avant-garde and jazz fusion, some thick, caramelized blues and some crunchy rock. The improvisational precision is crisp, and balance of musical styles provides a complex lushness. The New Quartet delivers a virtuoso performance so stunning in concept and execution, it must be heard to be believed.
Illinois Entertainer

As a work, Blue Rhizome addresses major existential issues such as death and love. The music shifts between full-blown ensemble playing and naked soliloquies, thus reflecting the shifting conditions of human life: from life in social tribes to sole reflections on mortality. Blue Rhizome is an ambitious effort, but its greatest success is in bringing its many threads together — thematically, as well as musically. What it all boils down to is the ancient cry of the human soul that is also heard in the blues: a cry for freedom that can't be bound. It's a freedom that is mimicked in the work of Blue Rhizome — that of breaking all musical chains while still being rooted in tradition.
All About Jazz

Ausgehend von einer regelrechten Gefühlskrise reflektieren die Stücke auf Blue Rhizome die verschiedenen Stadien der Betrübtheit, welches aus dem Wissen um die Endlichkeit des menschlichen Lebens entstanden ist. Ein grosses Thema des Albums auch in musikalischer Hinsicht ist das Überschreiten von Grenzen und das Hinterfragen der eigenen Werturteile. So rückt dieses recht nüchtern präsentierte Werk in seiner stilistischen Offenheit und tänzelnden Schwermut in die Nähe der Post-Rock-Produktionen aus dem Hause Constellation, auch wenn man es in keinem Plattenladen unter “Indie” finden wird. Echte Empfehlung für Offenherzige!
Aufabwegen Magazin (Germany)


This record will appeal to very adventurous jazz and most free improv fans both. It makes you wonder if the old guys were missing something by not writing solo works for this instrument.
The Improvisor

Despite limiting himself to one instrument, one bow and four strings, he offers many approaches to ten improvised pieces. His sound is big and round and he is an accomplished arco player. For those interested in solo improvised bass, this is a keeper.
Double Bassist / The Strad Magazine (England)

An album of solo bass work by Seigfried, played in an array of spare styles that seem to draw equal inspiration from the work of Malachi Favors and Arthur Russell. Together, the tracks all have a freshly creative approach that shows a new side of the Chicago creative tradition.
Dusty Groove

This is a thoughtful and enjoyable contribution to the genre of the solo bass recital. The results are like a virtuosic elaboration of the work of Charlie Haden, bedded in a stately, stoical beauty but yielding at times to giddy flurries of ornamentation. The bassist's honesty and musicality shine through, and that's enough to make this album worth hearing.
Cadence Magazine

Four-Star Review
For the true jazz lover, Criminal Mastermind is a compelling listen. Sometimes, Seigfried plays with a bow; other times, he plucks. But either way, Criminal Mastermind shows him to be a very expressive improviser who has a lot on his mind. The artists of Chicago's AACM have generally been people who, for all their abstraction and free-form dialogue, did not view outside improvisation as an exercise in merciless brutality — and Seigfried clearly identifies with that mindset on these rewarding solo bass performances.
All Music Guide

Four-Star Review Criminal Mastermind is [Seigfried's] technically-stupendous solo-showcase of the contrabass as a melody-, rhythm- and sound-instrument. In contrast to very high-pitched avant-gardists such as (for instance) Barry Guy, he remains rooted in deep layers. In ”Beneath the Underdog,” he begins with powerful Mingus-pizzicato; he displays his sonority as string-player in "Mass Builder" and his drum-technique with the back of the bow in the bluesy "Ambient." The great connoisseur of the Chicago AACM concludes with the three-part Malachi Favors Suite, with improvisations from down-home blues to an impressive combination of advanced bass techniques.
Jazz 'n' More (Switzerland)

Here he displays an enviable technique and a well-articulated musical vision. Whether implementing creaky arco lines or tapping and thumping his acoustic bass strings, Seigfried pays close attention to resonance and contrast. He projects a vivid sense of isolation when working through the lower registers, and keeps the surprise element alive by tossing in unanticipated treatments along the way.
All About Jazz

Criminal Mastermind reveals a first-rate improvising bass player with great chops, a penetrating sound, and some very interesting ideas. Seigfried likes to muscle the bass around as if it were a large acoustic guitar. Folk-like themes crop up, and the blues is palpable even during Seigfried’s most edgy improvisations. I came away from Criminal Mastermind impressed – both with Seigfried’s talent as a bassist and an improvisor. Karl E. H. Seigfried is definitely a musician to watch and a huge asset to the already ultra-deep Chicago jazz scene.

Karl E. H. Seigfried is a very talented bassist with a lot to say, musically speaking. His technical prowess is great, and musically he is rich with compelling ideas. "Mass Builder" shows off his arco playing and his deep, rich sound, especially in the low register. Throughout the album, Seigfried provides sonic and timbral variety by mixing up arco and pizzicato, as well as adding other colors by employing techniques such as ponticello, col legno, slapping the strings, and knocking on the body of the bass, to name a few. Additionally, he frequently utilizes double-stops, chords, and melodies over an open string drone, which serve to give texture and depth to this solo project, and are executed with enviable intonation.
Bass World (Magazine of the International Society of Bassists)


Charts a course from abstraction to purposeful flight.
Signal to Noise Magazine

This sound is the true definition of the Chicago avant-garde. Their music sometimes floats calmly like a river and sometimes swings with great violence.
After Hours Magazine (Japan)

What makes their music so strong — aside from their obvious gifts as individual players — is a tight trio empathy that exults in the sounds of their respective instruments. Seigfried’s dry, woody tone, combined with his vast harmonic reach, reminds me of Sirone. There’s a group mind focus at work here that’s not unlike that found on the first couple of Revolutionary Ensemble records. This one’s well worth seeking out.
Cadence Magazine

There's no question that this is a group rather than horn with accompaniment. Seigfried's worth hearing more of; he uses a similar vocabulary to Grimes/Sirone.
Demon (England)

Even in a city known for its vibrant free jazz scene, Chicago’s Boykin, Seigfried & Reed have established a strong presence. Individually, their resumes boast tenures with a who’s who of AACM all-stars. Their well-oiled empathy takes them through unexpected changes on seven improvised performances. Chewy multiphonics and buzzy highs flit around Seigfried’s muscular bass to open "7:40." He then takes an extended bass meditation, thoughtfully generating variations.
All About Jazz

The group’s sound resembles nothing so much as the terrific trios that Sam Rivers led in the '60s and '70s. They can blow free with the best groups, explore sound and texture in a manner inspired by Roscoe Mitchell, and can move into a hard swing that is unrivaled. Karl Seigfried is a rock solid bassist with a big tone and lovely melodic ideas. Though there is danger in a sax trio of the horn player dominating the proceedings with bass and drum accompaniment, this does not happen with BSR. They are a true collective. Each member moves to the foreground and recedes with ease. The sum makes up more than the considerable talents of each of its parts. Boykin, Seigfried & Reed are worth catching live if you can. They are a very exciting group, one of the best Chicago has to offer.
Cosmik Debris


One of our favorites of the year.
Wrecking Ball Radio Show

Songs filled with country, bluegrass, folk, jazz and rock.
Rockford Register Star

Rustic indie rock that references the finer aspects of country music's past. Simultaneously affectionate and nostalgic.

"Golden Record" pushes the vocals up a notch, the organ pulses like a satellite circling the rhythm section, the guitars are roused from the slumber of the preceding tracks and there is a major deviation from the template as it threatens to go all Sun Ra on us.
Americana UK (England)

Bittersweet, nostalgic music that summons thoughts of country towns and railroad tracks. A memorable debut that will appeal to more than just fans of Americana and suggests a promising future.

On this release, the quintet displays a showcase of Americana highlights that has been matched by only a small list of new and upcoming artists over the past few years.
The War on Pop

You will be delighted with Walk On, and I’m also sure that [the Lost Cartographers] will go on to be a huge success on both sides of the Atlantic.
Maverick Magazine (England)


Relaxed, floating, pastoral and often a little groovy.
Progressive Rock Files

Hidden joys to be discovered for those who decide to take the plunge.
Sea of Tranquility



[Producer Don Falcone] has again assembled an impressive line-up of collaborators to realize this album.
Space Rock Reviews

Music that is at once dark and claustrophobic, channeling 1950s cold-war paranoia, late-'60s psychedelia and the curdling of the hippie dream, and late-'70s punk nihilism.

Brings together contributions from a globe-spanning collective of musicians to create music that covers all possible points on the Space-Progressive Rock axis.
Aural Innovations


Staff Pick - Best of 2010
Aural Innovations

Somewhere in between King Crimson, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Pharaoh Sanders. A very unique whole with the album's cosmic free jazz vibes and experimental touch perhaps being the most characteristic elements.
Psychotropic Zone

Whimiscal jazz mixed with psychedelia and doomy prog. There are elements of lumbering '70s hard rock, jazz bass, classic prog rock mellotron and endless sound effects. Wow, what a knockout of an album.
Aural Innovations


The songs are very accessible, many even radio-friendly, though the magic of the music is the underlying variety and complexity.
Aural Innovations

One of the best Spirits Burning albums and definitely worth getting!
Psychotropic Zone

The compositions range from acid folk, industrial noise and space pop to pastoral easy listening and chamber pop.

The concept album isn’t dead, and on Bloodlines it’s used to great effect. Around each corner is another unexpected but sympathetic instrument or effect that gives the work a successful range of aural emotions and in the end delivers a very absorbing whole.
Spacerock Reviews


The performance is crystalline, with [piano soloist Karen] Walwyn and the NBRE often sounding like a period-instrument outfit tackling one of Mozart’s fortepiano concertos. The performance and sound quality of the recording are outstanding.
New Music Box

Performances by the New Black Repertory Ensemble under Leslie B. Dunner are clean and idiomatic. Recommended for those interested in the history of African-American classical music in the early 20th century.
All Music Guide


Highly recommended.
All Music Guide

Strongly recommended.
San Francisco Classical Voice

This is good music on every level and very well performed by both ensembles [orchestra and chamber group]. Strongly recommended.
Fanfare Magazine

Bringing together African, African-American as well as European musical elements is successfully executed in this representation of recorded music of the African Diaspora.
Black Grooves


A rocking mixture of electro-dance, funk, reggae and jazz.
Aural Innovations

The album is a mixture of what feel like film soundtrack sequences and sunlight drifting through chinks in a curtain ambience.

Multi-faceted enough to intrigue the listener into following its gentle meanderings, listening out for the next texture change and picking out its nuances and moods.
Spacerock Reviews

This is a cool disc that’s really not like anything else out there. The bass is pretty awesome as it swims around in the backdrop.
Music Street Journal