Jazz and classic - Dieter Ilg (born 1961) knows both worlds. Although he decided to become a jazz bassist at the tender age of 16, he studied classical double bass; partly to gain a comprehensive knowledge of music history. Since then he has combined these two musical worlds with each other in various projects. With his technical mastery, Ilg lends the double bass a lyrical quality and expressiveness that are the reason for his international renown. Whether as a side man or as a leader of his own ensembles - Dieter Ilg has a rare talent to unite the art of accompaniment with the art of playing solo.
Bassist Dieter Ilg is regarded today as one of a handful of European musicians who make their unmistakable musical style a valuable contribution to the projects they work on.
Whether it is as a internationally well-respected sideman or as band leader of his own ensembles: Ilg always combines the quality of the bass as a musical foundation with a graceful ease and expression that is rarely heard on a technically difficult instrument such as the double bass.
It is sometimes assumed that there are two kinds of bass players: those who "groove" and accompany (serving mainly as a rhythmic presence) or those who - freeing themselves of the serving role - strive to explore their artistic heights as a soloist (displaying their versatility as virtuoso improvisers). Unlike many Dieter Ilg combines the two ends of this spectrum.
His versatile, individual, passionate and tasteful voice has become a valuable contribution to the international jazz arena.
At the age of six Dieter Ilg - then an experienced recorder player (in kindergarten) - learned to play the violin and the viola before deciding to play the double bass at the age of thirteen.
After four years of lessons at the music school in his home town Offenburg Ilg went on searching for new teachers. He studied with Norbert Brenner ( solo double bass player of the SWR Orchestra Baden-Baden) and later on attended Jazz courses in Burghausen, Remscheid and Tu"bingen, working with a wide variety of instructors and professionals.
From 1981 until 1985 Ilg refined his practical skills as well as his theoretical knowledge with Prof. Wolfgang Stert at the Musikhochschule Freiburg. Winning the Fulbright scholarship then enabled him to study at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City (1986/1987).
At this time he was already skilled enough to understand the art of musical structure as it was conveyed to him by such masters as Eddie Gomez and Miroslav Vitous. It was also then that he made his further experiences on the stage as a member of the Joe Viera Sextett (1981 - 1984) as well as with his first trio-project, co-founded with Klaus Ignatzek. Not before long he had built up a busy schedule performing with such players as Bobby Watson, Roman Schwaller or David Liebman.
It was Liebman who significantly influenced Ilg's decision to stay on in New York for a while when he invited him to join the John Coltrane Memorial Concert in NYC in January 1987. The future began to look exciting.
Seizing the moment Ilg founded his first Trio with guitarist John Schro"der and drummer Wolfgang Haffner shortly after returning from New York. He also became a member of the Randy Brecker Quintet. Suddenly things were on a roll and he was awarded with the Baden-Wu"rttemberg Jazz Prize. The press said:
The brilliance and expression of his tone, the originality in the concept of his ensemble and his individual approach to harmony are fascinating.
Regular performances with the WDR Big Band, frequent tours in europe (for example a tour of Spain with Bennie Wallace ) and a new line up to his own trio - this time including pianist Marc Copland - is what followed. These collaborations resulted in the production of three CD's featuring drummers Bill Stewart, Ralph Penland and Jeff Hirshfield.