Jonas Hellborg: Blue in Green
Blue in Green
Jonas Hellborg (electric bass)
Elegant Punk (Day Eight Music DEM CD 004)
Jonas Hellborg (electric bass).
Composed by Miles Davis.
Recorded: Genarp, Sweden, May 1984
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
Early in his career, many fans compared Jonas Hellborg to bass superstar Jaco Pastorius. Musically, this was silly. They were both very great but different players. Hellborg was much more into chord playing than Jaco. This set Hellborg apart from about 99.9% of other electric bassists at the time. He also employed a unique string-slapping technique, though he overused it from time to time, which would soon become a standard sound in the bass lexicon. Jaco didn't slap.
The comparison to Jaco would be an apt, however, if fans were talking about the expected fame Jonas would soon acquire. But Jonas has made decisions that would not allow that popular recognition to take hold. He has said on more than one occasion that he does not care about fame or an historic career. He is interested only in playing music he wants to play. Over the years, he has certainly stayed true to that philosophy by releasing mostly noncommercial music on his own labels and eschewing the moniker of "Bass God."
Elegant Punk is a perfect example of Hellborg's immersing himself into the music rather than image. At the time of this solo recording, he was becoming well known for his wild fusion excursions. He would have sold many more records had he continued that type of sound on Elegant Punk. Instead, with one or two notable exceptions, he focused on the beauty of the bass guitar and demonstrated why it can be used for so much more than just bottom-end timekeeping.
His version of "Blue in Green" is a tasteful example of bass as rhythm, accompaniment, and melodic lead. It is full of subtle chords and evocative soloing. In a nutshell, he approaches the bass as if it were a guitar. That requires some serious thinking and even more serious finger-stretching to reach and play those impossible chords.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky