Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Hillmann, Christoph, drummer, percussionist, live electronics, educator; b. Dusseldorf, Germany, 22 February 1964. He grew up in Hilden, Germany, with his Mother Johanna Brigitte Hillmann (born Ditthard) and his Father Dietrich Eckhard Hillmann (called Dieter) and his sister Wiltrud. Though working as teachers (his mother as a music teacher later) his parents were both dedicated musicians in the field of classical and old music and the family home was filled with cello, viola da gamba, cembalo, guitar, recorder, piano, krummhorn asf. . Aside from regular music lessons from about age 4 to 14 on piano, violin, recorder Christoph could use these Instruments guided by his parents.
When he started to listen to pop and rock music at the age of 12 he taught himself the guitar and started to improvise on the piano. At the age of 14 he asked for drum lessons, his parents agreed reluctantly. With his first drumset he started playing in jazzrock bands, school and church combos about the age of 16. At age 18 he started teaching himself the electric bass. When he got the Abitur 1984 he played Jazzrock, Rhythm&Blues and African Music - concerts in the Region as well as a drummer as a bass player. He started a study of musicology in Cologne, focussing on ethnic music. At the same time he extends his musical range by learning Ethnic percussion instruments. He attends workshops in the unique rhythm concept "Ta Ke Ti Na" with Reinhard Flatischler, joined and performed with Samba Batucada Bands and at the age of 22 he met his teacher and friend Naser Mehravar, an Iranian emigrant and master of the Persian Tombak. For three years he studied the Tombak extensively, transcribes the Compositions of Mehravar to be used in Percussion ensembles. Drumset solos played with fingers or hands are a trademark of Hillmanns up to today. In 1988 Hillmann's composition for solo drums inspired by Persian rhythm is part of the Theaterpiece "Reichtum,Schonheit, Gluck und Liebe" by German regisseur FJ Heumannskamper. The 15min solopiece is performed live as an overture.
Meanwhile the "alternative service" has interrupted the study of musicology. After this gap of 16 months, musicology seems no longer the right path. After meeting the teacher and composer Joop van Erwen at the conservatory in Arnhem, Netherlands, Christoph decides for a study there and does the entrance examination successfully also in 1988. He takes Lessons with Joop as well as with the famous Dutch Fusion Drummer Renee Cremers. Arnhem turned out to be a lucky decision as also the EDDC (European Dance Development Center) is situated there. In the years 1990-93 this work consists of music for dance films and live performances. He is musical director for "Tales From My Horse" by the British Choreographer Tony Thatcher. The score is written for 4 drummers by (John Cage Student) Jim Fulkerson.
He is Co Composer and Co - Producer of "Sens Dessus Dessous", a piece for two musicians and one dancer for the District of Gelderland NL in 1992. He co-founded a student's modern jazz quartett ".a phrygian loveaffair" and won the special MDR Radio Award at the Jazzfestival Leipzig. He is Member of the Dutch band "De 8 Baan" which was finalist in the Belgium jazz contest in Brussels in the year after he earns the diploma at the conservatory.
He moved to Cologne (Germany) in 1993 and since has been recording and performing in classical Jazzformations, interdisciplinary projects. He has been Sideman or composer and soloist in theater and danceproductions. He has been working with European greats such as, Henning Berg, Peter Bolte, Xavier Garcia, Alain Gibert , Michael Heupel, Hartmut Kracht, Jean Mereu, Tom Lorenz, Hans Ludemann, Andy Lumpp, Christian Rollet, Celine Rudolph, Steffen Schorn , Ramesh Shootham, Hendrik Soll , Claudius Valk, and Nils Wogram. He has played concerts with Ulli Beckerhoff, Charlie Mariano, Kenny Wheeler, Stan Sulzman, Henry Lowther, Manfred Schoof, Jarmo Hogendijk, Roger Hanschel, Frank Gratkowski, Christopher Dell, Frank Kollges Rainer Winterschladen, and the Cologne Radiosynfonie Orchestra.
In the years 1996-2000, he played with the Frank Speer Acoustic Quartet with trombonist Nils Wogram, as well as "Das Letzte Kammerensemble" and finally with pianist Thomas Ruckert.
Among a large number of band projects from then up to 2003 the most consistent work was done with three bandleaders. First he is drumming in almost all bands and projects of bass player and composer Andre Nendza since 1995. Second his life partner saxophonist and composer Angelika Niescier. This consists regular work since 97/98 as recording, touring with the quartet "Sublim" and interdisciplinary projects with dance and poetry - a.o. the prizewinning "Summit Talks" in 2002/03. Third is Norbert Stein who does international Music and Art projects in which C.H is playing life electronics and percussion, sometimes drumset. He has travelled to Morocco in 1999, Australia in 2001 and Indonesia in 2001. His multimedia productions in Germany are documented under the Label Patamusic.
He had started experimenting with a combination of percussion and electronic devices already in 1998. Aside the "Patamusic"-projects they are played purely in Angelika Niesciers "Resonanzen", the "Hellweg Suite", and in HillmannOEs original Music for Tony Thatchers choreographie "Brake Dubble". They are added to the drumset in the Band "A.Tronic" which is featuring Dave Liebman, as well as several Modern Dance - , Tapdance and Theaterpieces.
Contemporary jazz drumming remains to be the main part of Hillmann's work on club and festival stages, regular radio and CD recordings. From 2002 he is at times performing with The European Jazz Ensemble/European Jazzquintett with leader and basss player Ali Haurand, Rob van den Broek, Gerd Dudek, Alan Skidmore, Jiri Stivin a.o. Aside Jazz and Improvised Music he is occasionally drumming in the field of Contemporary Music (Music for the short movies "Eckfliesen", and "Probewohnen" composed by Theodor Pauss; Bernd Alois Zimmermann "Stille und Umkehr", Production by the WDR Radiosymphonyorchestra).
Throughout the years Christoph Hillmann has been a dedicated part time music teacher for the drumset. He has participated and directed special music projects for children in youth centers and public schools.
Lutz Potthoff Trio: Personal View (1994); De 8-Baan: 8 x g (1995); Andre Nendza Septett: Into The Gap; Stephan Max Wirth Quartett: Mythos (1999), Jazzchanson (1999); Lutz Potthoff Quartett: Windrush (1997); Das letzte Kammerensemble: Jazz Violin 1 (1998); Andre Nendza Septett: Songs From A Red Notebook (Suite mit Texten von Paul Auster, produziert fur die Leverkusener Jazztage 1997 als Trager des rheinischen Kulturpreises) (1997); Frank Speer - Acoustic Quartett: Dread Nay (1997); Mark Joggerst and Eda Zari: The Art Of Time (1998); Norbert Stein Pata Masters / Michael Rusenberg: Pata Maroc (1999); Andre Nendza Quartett: The Invention Of Rooms (2000); Frank Speer - Acoustic Quartett: Mind Move (2000); Patamusic meets Arfi: The Beauty And The Beast (2001); Angelika Niescier: Sublim (2002); A. Tronic: Lichtblau (2002); Norbert Stein Patamasters: Live in Australia (2002); Claudia Anthes: Hellweg Suite (2003); Claudia Scholz: By the moon (unreleased)
"Tales From My Horse" Tony Thatcher (1991 Arnhem/ AmsterdamNL)
"Sens Dessus Dessous" Barbara Cleff (1993 Arnhem / GelderlandNL)
"Intelligent Lif" Keith Ormand (1994 Koln)
"Three Dancers Approaching" Sebastian Weber (1999 Dusseldorf)
"Brake Dubbel" Tony Thatcher (2001 Arnhem/2002 Stockholm)
"Tap Ahead" Sebastian Weber (2002 - Dusseldorf)
"Caxixi" (2002 Ulrike Neth/Cologne)
Spherical shell (2002 Angelika Niescier, Domenico Strazzieri - Ulm)
Summit Talks (2002/2003 Niescier/ Weber/ Neth ? Koln)
Reichtum Schonheit Gluck und Liebe (1988 Dusseldorf JUTA)
"La Pericole" (1999, Regie: Jerome Savary, Dusseldorfer Schauspielhaus)
"Alice" (2000 org. Tom Waits, Kolner Schauspielhaus)
"Die Schone und das Biest" (2000 Patamusic/ ARFI Lyon, Leverkusen)
"Resonanzen" (2001/2002 Niescier, Dusseldorf/Koln)
"Steingeil- Der Kunstler Arne-Bernd Rhaue" (1996); "Eckfliesen" (1998); "Suzhou-River" (2000); "Das Geschenk" (2002); "Probewohnen" (2002)