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Fred Hopkins

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by damonsmith, Jul 7, 2006.

  1. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    Fred Hopkins was amazing. He was a such a badass player. There is really no other way to put it.
    Everything he played was awesome even his fat and twanky amp sound.
    He was part of the innovative quartet (the fourth member being silence or air) with Henry threadgill and Steve McCall.
    They redefined trio improvising as well as how ragtime could sound (see the "Airlore" lp).
    his work with 'cellist Deidre Murray both in duo and the Threadgill sextet was fantastic.
    My favorite example of his work is in trio with Peter Brötzmann and Rashid Ali on an FMP cd called "songlines".
    Pretty much every note he played had so much weight and power to it.
    I saw him play the night I got my first double bass with David Murray.
    In the first piece Murray took a mediocre post bop solo, John Hicks took an amazing post bop solo and then Fred layed the bass on it's side and started whipping it with his bow while Andrew Cyrrile sang into his snare.
    oliebrice and mrefjl like this.
  2. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Amen. That guy was all the way live. Thanks for the reminder. I used to listen to Air in the morning, just to blow the cobwebs out.
  3. teleharmonium


    Dec 2, 2003
    That Murray show you described sounds a lot like one I saw at the Painted Bride in Philadelphia around '90, which was the last time I saw Fred play. IIRC they opened with "Let the Music Take You". At one point after a long solo that was pretty cool, but I didn't think Fred was entirely happy with, he shouted into one of the F holes, "Is there anybody in there ?" The first time I saw Fred play was also with Murray a few years prior in Dayton OH and was my first free jazz show, of course it made a big impression. Bobby Battle was spectacular on drums. The whole show was fantastic, the crowd was going crazy, and I met some people that night are still friends (including the late lamented Oscar Treadwell). In retrospect I think that was a turning point in my life.
  4. Hopkinsophile


    Sep 13, 2006
    I heard Fred Hopkins with "New Air", the version with Pheeroan AkLaff that reformed after the death of Steve McCall, in the auditorium of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis sometime in the mid-eighties. It was a small room, and the band played entirely unmiked. I was overwhelmed by Fred Hokins sonic presence--I sat about ten rows back and was just about knocked down. When guys talk about getting a "heavy" sound on electric (which is what I play, by the way), I think of that night.
    With real respect to present company (unless there is a really interesting coincidence in the name of one of the previous posters to this thread), I don't think that anyone wound up on as many really good records over the last thirty years as Hopkins, and with what seems almost a criminal level of critical neglect.

    p.s. I am a new member, and was not aware of this posting until after i picked my member's name).
  5. RHFusillo

    RHFusillo Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2000
    Phoenix, AZ
    The first time I heard Fred Hopkins was on David Murray's Low Class Conspiracy. He had great groove and a huge sound.
  6. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I saw Fred with Deidre once in Boston.

    While Fred was in the middle of a solo using some rather bizarre "extended technique" Deidre gave him a look like "what the %$#$^&^ are you doing?".

    His response was a sheepish grin and he went back to walking...

    So when is someone going to reissue all the Air stuff? Too many titles are still OOP. I've never heard any of the Arista stuff because it came out when I was overseas in the army and the PX didn't stock things like that :(
  7. ablumley


    Jul 25, 2006
    This is why I read this page.

    Thanks for bringing up Fred Hopkins. Over the last while, I've heard about him and the band Air but for one reason or another, I have never checked Fred Hopkins' playing. So I Bought Songlines a few days ago and have been listening to it on headphones, walking around late at night. His bass playing is rubbery, immense and bluesy. And I love how Peter Brotzmann works with the harmonic foundations that Hopkins sets up. Again, thanks for pointing me in his direction.
  8. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    Yeah, those solos Fred takes are ridiculous. Also, the free, funky, swing He and Ali get going is awesome - it never settles but the feel is always there.
  9. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
    As a teenager in the 60's, I regularly went out to hear Fred in Richard Abrams' groups around the Chicago area. What an influence those guys were on my musical development! Fred was just full of energy and really made every note count. I got to hear him one last time shortly before he died at the yearly Jazz Fair at the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago and his playing and presense were as strong as ever.
  10. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Lucky you! I loved that whole AACM thing back when. Nice alternative to all the polka and folky stuff that surrounded me in rural Wisconsin.
  11. oliebrice


    Apr 7, 2003
    Hastings, UK
    theres quite a lot of fred in this clip:
  12. anybody know what kind of bass & strings fred used?
  13. Gornick


    Jun 23, 2006
    Bay Area, CA
    I picked up some Air Song on Emusic and have been digesting it. I know Henry Threadgill doesn't get much press here since he likes tubas to kick the lowend, but I have been a huge fan for years now. What an incredible compositional voice.

    I was always curious about Air, but couldn't come across it on the street, so this was a revelation.

    Fred is incredible. Beautiful player all around. I agree, he makes every note come out with full intention...

    Someone new to soak up!
  14. Mike Arnopol

    Mike Arnopol Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 4, 2005
    Owner of MAS Soundworks
    Fred and I were friends way back. We had lessons back to back with the principal pf the CSO. I was this 17 year old hippie kid that looked like Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. He invited me down to jam sessions with the AACM. The vibe at first was less than welcoming, but Fred really supported me and I got to play with most of the great AACM players of the time. My start in jazz was ass-backward---I came from classical to avant garde to bebop and post bebop. Fred really help open things up for me. I've always loved his playing. Always pushing the edge in terms of raw emotion---courageous and no-holds-barred.
    matthewbrown and oliebrice like this.
  15. MolluskGoneBad


    Feb 23, 2010
    Canton, MA
    Mosaic just released a boxed set of Henry Threadgill's work on Novus and Columbia. There's a LOT of fantastic Fred Hopkins playing on there, including 3 Air albums, an album and a half by X-75 (an ensemble with 4 basses) and 3 Sextett albums.

    Sound is fantastic, especially on the 3 Air recordings, which are significantly upgraded from what I'd heard before.

    Well worth checking out.
  16. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    I think Spiros and a basic carved bass. Those Threadgill albums are great. I love the Tubas as well. I did drop off when he started using a cocktail funk guitarist, though!
  17. gerry grable

    gerry grable Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2010
    I must confess that until this thread I had never heard of tthis guy.
  18. ctrlzjones


    Jul 11, 2013
    Just i little bumper for Fred Hopkins; for the people that don't like to search the TB archive for questionable role models.

    I just upped another recording with him playing in another thread ...

    Here it is again, from a cd done by Charles Brakeen :

    Reading the threads regarding FH now, I become aware that one of his playing parameters is called 'Gomezzing' a.k.a. sliding ...
    Boy, I really don't know by myself, but this seems to be something that I gotta dig in further. It seems to give a really interesting texture for the groove maintenance ...

    And as I am still reading the threads on TB, this neat little snippet comes up on
    "I really don’t like amplifiers. Hate ‘em, by the way. And at this time I was still playing acoustically, and they would put a microphone on the bass or something like that. So I was able to actually develop a sound. Because then you’re not playing through the amplifier. You’re actually through the instrument. I mean, you really have to play the instrument to project over drums and saxophones and all these things, you know."
    [... paragraphs later, talking about piano players ...]
    "the sound actually comes from the musician, not the instrument. It’s good to have good instruments, by the way. But it starts from yourself out."
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2014
  19. oliebrice


    Apr 7, 2003
    Hastings, UK
    Fred Hopkins was amazing! Interesting that quote about him hating amps, because he had one of my favourite amplified sounds

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