Carl Hillman was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the home of "the Father
of the Blues" W.C. Handy. After a few years, his family moved to the
small town of Aberdeen, Mississippi. It was there that Carl first had
the opportunity to hear the real music of the Deep South: gospel and
At the age of nine Carl's family moved west to settle in Ft. Worth,
Inspired by a Pee Wee Russell record that his parents had, and because
it "looked cool", he started playing clarinet in the school band in
the sixth grade.
Over the next six years, whenever there was a vacancy in the bands'
instrumentation, Carl was handed a new instrument and fingering chart.
By the time he graduated he had played Bb and Eb clarinets, tenor sax,
oboe, french horn, and electric bass.
Carl began attending the College of Music at the University of
North Texas, left to tour Europe and Asia for a year, then returned to
graduate with a performance degree on double bass.
Since then, Carl has made his home in Dallas and has had the
opportunity to play with a wide range of performers from jazz players
like Dr. Donald Byrd, David Liebman, and Ronald Shannon Jackson, to
showbiz legends like Robert Goulet, Bernadette Peters, and The Ink
Spots. Along with fellow Gumbo King drummer Bobby Breaux, he plays
every Sunday morning at Trinity United Methodist Church in Arlington, TX.
Carl feels fortunate to be able to bring his wide range of influences and experience to the band because it takes a little bit of everything to make 'de gumbo.