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Jonas Hellborg

Jonas Hellborg

Since Swedish bass phenom Jonas Hellborg parted ways with John McLaughlin after a lengthy stint with the guitarist in the 1980s-first with the reconstituted Mahavishnu Orchestra (the gig that introduced the Swedish bass phenom to Stateside audiences) and subsequently with McLaughlin’s electro-acoustic trio featuring master percussionist Trilok Gurtu-he has quietly gone about the business of creating provocative and noteworthy new works for his own independent labels. Under the auspices of Day Eight Music (DEM), he delved into the nuance and rich resonance of his Wechter acoustic-bass guitar on 1991’s startling solo bass project The Silent Life, which allowed him to explore to the hilt his inimitable use of chords on the bass, his awesome slap technique (marked by a profusion of thumbed triplets) and his uncannily lyrical single-note facility. There followed a wave of similarly ambitious recordings on DEM, including Hellborg’s intimate and alluring duet project with frame-drum master Glen Velez (1995’s Ars Moriende), an organ-trio outing with fellow Swedes Anders and Jens Johansson (1994’s e) and two thrashing, jam-oriented power trio outings: 1995’s Abstract Logic with fire-breathing guitar shredder Shawn Lane and drummer Kofi Baker (Ginger’s son) and 1996’s hellacious Temporal Analogues of Paradise with guitarist Lane and drummer Apt. Q-258 (aka Jeff Sipe).

After Hellborg formed the Bardo label in 1997, he continued down the power-trio path with Lane and Sipe on Time Is the Enemy and the particularly aggressive live offering Personae, which featured some of the most mind-boggling six-string work this side of Allan Holdsworth, Scott Henderson, Eric Johnson and Frank Gambale. “That period that we played together was really fruitful,” Hellborg says. “It was less than two years, but we did four records during that time.”

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