AK: Where there any bassists who influenced you especially?
LH: At the age of sixteen, when I was playing bass in a school band, I was deeply impressed by Jim Fielder who was the bassist of “Blood, Sweat and Tears” and also by some bass parts in the music released by the Motown label - I think the bass player was James Jamerson.
AK: When did you come in contact with professional musicians for the first time?
LH: I was about seventeen years old when I had the chance to meet Ken Rhodes, a pianist from Chicago who invited me to play with his Trio on a small jazz festival in Bavaria. I was really surprised about the positive reaction of both the musicians and the audience. We jammed around some funky, bluesy tunes and everything worked very well. This experience was a great stimulation for my musical development. Not long after this I moved to Salzburg, Austria, where I started playing professionally with a local Jazz trio called “Pentameter” - sometimes we had guest players like Ferenc Tolnay, a saxophone player from Budapest, Hungary, or Friedemann Graef from Berlin, and shortly after this I was invited to play at the Jazz Festival Burghausen, Germany.
AK: And did you stay in Salzburg?
LH: I lived there for about two years, until I moved to Munich. At that time there were a lot of things going on there, especially in the famous Jazz club “Domicile” – back in those days, around 1977, it was possible to get in touch with internationally acclaimed musicians like Tommy Flannagan, Elvin Jones, Thad Jones, Mel Lewis and a lot of others. In those years I came in contact with Roy Louis, Elmer Louis and also Bobby Stern, and I played at the “Domicile” with a Fusion band called “Departure”. This band toured all over Germany for years.
AK: This must have been an interesting time! Can you remember some special situations?
LH: Oh yes. I remember one day when we recorded at a big studio, we took a break and went for lunch, and the sound engineer pointed at the apple pie I was eating, telling me that this cake had been made by the same cook who had done the catering for the Beatles. It was delicious.
AK: You also played with a band called “Octagon”. What kind of band was this?
LH: When “Departure” dissolved in 1980, Hermann Weindorf - today a well-known keyboard player and composer - called me to found a new group. He remembered me because we had had an audition with him for the “Departure” project before. Hermann had a big talent for writing, and I added some of my own music to the bands repertoire. Soon we went to produce an LP record (named “Octagon”, like the band) for the label “Jupiter”, where we could get the world famous Curt Cress to participate in the band project. This was one of the supergroups at that time. We had a lot of shows to play and broadcasting productions on the radio and also on TV. I remember one night playing with “Octagon” at the “Domicile”, when David Liebmann, Ritchie Beirach, Ron Mc Clure, and Adam Nussbaum were sitting in the audience right in front of me. This night I was very inspired and played a bass solo; after the set was finished I went to the bathroom where Ron introduced himself to me with the words: “Hi, I’m Ron Mc Clure. And you play better electric bass than I do.” One minute later I had his New York address written on a piece of paper ... When we came back into the club I noticed a young man with tennis shoes, and Ron introduced him to me with the words: "This guy is totally crazy - he always plays too loud!" It was John Scofield. I was amazed and couldn't stop smiling the whole night.
AK: What other recordings did you make?
LH: With “Octagon” we made a second LP (“Burned Out”); one of my compositions was taken by Joe Kienemann for his “Jazz Today” radio broadcasting show as introduction to the programme and was on the air for many years.
AK: How long did “Octagon” exist? What happened to the band?
LH: I think it existed for about five years – it came to the point where the interests of the band members drifted apart; Hermann was very much in the studio recording scene, and I was inclined to play the double bass increasingly, inspired by recordings of the Bill Evans Trio, for example. At the end of the 1980s I played with a heavy Bebop group with Thomas Reimer from Austria as guitarist and the young Wolfgang Haffner on drums. It was called “Explosion”. We played some festivals and many gigs in German and Austrian clubs. At the same time I had some beautiful gigs with pianist Larry Porter in a Jazz trio, and I was also playing with “The Bebop Message”, a band led by the famous drummer Joe Nay. One time Joe was invited to play with Bireli Lagrene in a trio with Jaco Pastorius. They wanted to make a tour through Italy, and Joe had a cassette of our music that he played for Jaco – and Jaco spontaneously handed him a set of his special strings and said to Joe: “Bring him this!” Unfortunately Joe didn’t go to Italy. Willi Ketzer was taken for drums instead.
AK: Was music your one and only?
LH: Yes, it was. My whole life was dedicated to playing and practising. But in 1987 there came a big change, called Jan - my son! Everything became different. I had to make some steady money …
AK: What did you do?
LH: I was looking for a job as a bass teacher, and it took quite a while, but at last there were many young people who came to take lessons. I was also doing a lot of workshops. So I could make a living and bring up my son – that was sometimes hard enough because I went directly into a divorce and was a single, bass-playing and teaching father. Meanwhile Jan is 20 years old and we had a lot of good times!
AK: And what are your plans for the future, now that things are changing again?
LH: One year ago I started a project with my own music, a quartet comprised of a saxophone player, a keyboard player, double bass and drums. We played some gigs but I didn’t have the energy to be a manager, composer, player, band leader, teacher and father at the same time. But in the near future I’ll try some new projects and come back to play again.
AK: We wish you good luck for this! Thanks a lot for your time.
LH: My pleasure!
All Photos Copyright by Matti Bauer. back