Hugh Hopper Band — Alive!
(Blueprint BP150, 1987/1993, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 1999-11-01After his glory days with Soft Machine, Hugh Hopper went through some lean times (musically at least), until the mid to late 80s, when he hooked up with a crew of Dutch musicians for a number of tours of Holland. This CD is the record of those proceedings. Seven of the nine tracks were recorded on the 1987 tour; the other two date from 1985. Joining Hopper in the band are saxmen Frank van der Kooy and Kees van Veldhuizen, keyboardist Dionys Breukers, guitarist Hans van der Zee, and drummers Pieter Bast (1987) and André Maes (1985). The playing stays pretty solidly within jazz idioms, never rocking hard and not too wild. The recording quality is good except the 1985 cuts, which are above-average for bootleg, but noticeably inferior to the others. Hopper’s “Glider” gets things off to a breezy start, providing a solo opportunity for piano, and some nice ensemble playing. Other band members contribute a few compositions to the set, including van der Kooy’s “Forget the Dots” in a quick 7/4 with a great sax solo (from the composer?), and two from van der Zee. Probably my favorite of Hopper’s contributions is “Turfschip Enterprise,” a slow funk groove in three featuring guitar that mutates into a bouncy swinging tempo for a sax solo. Aside from the distracting poor recording of the two 1985 tracks, only some dated keyboard sounds serve as a slight detriment to this set.
Related artist(s): Hugh Hopper
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart $amp; Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more