Jonas Hellborg

hellborg

Jonas Hellborg (born 7 June 1958) is a Swedish bass guitarist. He has collaborated with John McLaughlin, Ustad Sultan Khan, Fazal Qureshi, Bill Laswell, Shawn Lane, Jens Johansson, Anders Johansson, Michael Shrieve, V. Selvaganesh, Jeff Sipe, Mattias IA Eklundh and Buckethead.

Hellborg began his music career in 1976 in Sweden touring with local rock acts. He was spotted by percussionist Reebop Kwaku Baah in a small club in Stockholm 1979 and he moved to London for a year to work with Reebop on different projects. He played the Montreux Jazz festival in Switzerland in 1981 and met Michael Brecker who introduced him to John McLaughlin, Billy Cobham and other fusion stars. He was asked to join John McLaughlin’s reformed Mahavishnu Orchestra in 1983 and he stayed with McLaughlin until 1988 touring and recording with Mahavishnu Orchestra and also doing several duet tours with McLaughlin during this time.

In 1986 and 1987 he toured with a project featuring Ginger Baker on drums and Bernie Worrell on keyboards.

In 1988 Hellborg moved to New York and started his own band which first included keyboardist Aydin Esen and drummer Kenwood Dennard, later the Johansson Brothers, Jens on keyboards and Anders on drums. At the same time he started a recording studio together with producer/bassist Bill Laswell called Greenpoint Studios. They recorded a multitude of records there until early 1993, including The Word together with Tony Williams, Octave of the Holy Innocents with Mike Shrieve and Buckethead, Material’s Hallucination Engine, and E with the Johansson Brothers.

In 1993 he sold his part in the studio to Laswell and resettled in Paris, France. The following year he teamed up with guitarist Shawn Lane, a cooperation that would last 9 years. The first record was Abstract Logic with Ginger Baker’s son Kofi on drums; this was followed by Michael Shrieve’s “Two Doors”. By the third record they were joined by drummer Jeff Sipe and embarked on long stretch that produced 4 records and a lot of touring between 1995 and 1997.

In 1998 Hellborg met percussionist V. Selvaganesh at a Zakir Hussain concert in Paris. The two formed another long lasting musical partnership that has been ongoing since then. To start with Selvaganesh joined Hellborg in duets and in different “classical” settings Hellborg was working on at the time. Later a group was formed first in trio with Lane then grew into a quintet including Selvaganesh’s 2 brothers V. Umashankar and V. Umamahesh. 2 CD’s and a DVD were produced with this group. After Shawn Lane’s death in 2003, Hellborg has continued to explore amalgamations of Indian and Western music, working with Indian masters as Debashish Bhattacharya, Niladri Kumar, Vikku Vinayakram, Tanmoy Bose and U. Shrinivas. He has also started a new Metal-Fusion project with guitarist Mattias IA Eklundh called Art Metal.

Hellborg founded his own record label Day Eight Music in 1979 releasing his first solo bass record The Bassic Thing – an early showcase of his pioneering chordal, and for the time very advanced, slapping approaches. It is also noteworthy that it was the first LP ever to feature solely bass guitar. With the move to the US a new entity was formed called Bardo Music that took over the responsibilities of Hellborgs output now counting around 40 odd releases.