Brian Hopper — If Ever I Am
(Voiceprint VP338CD, 2004, CD)
by Jeff Melton, Published 2006-05-01
Canterbury fans may recall Hugh’s brother who was a member of the Wilde Flowers and played sax on Soft Machine Volume Two. Since that time Hopper was also involved in the bootleg quality Canterburied series on Voiceprint making available rare performances from various acts as well including Beggar’s Farm and Zobe. 2004 found the sax player and composer enlisting old friends for work on new songs and a revisit on old ones. Both Hugh and Robert Wyatt appear in support and lead roles on various pieces. Wyatt delivers two memorable lead vocals on the “The Pieman Cometh” and a reprise of “Hope for Happiness.” The former piece is a slice of synth keyboard and programmed drums that benefits from Wyatt’s choired vocals and trumpet. The latter nine minute revisitation of the Softs’ classic tune from their first album has Wyatt crooning over an Indian raga motif that supposedly was the original plan for the piece. Francis Knight gives the best piano accompaniment on the disc on “Sometimes It Is.” Alternately, “Modality” is perhaps the best conceived piece on the disc as the two Hopper brothers find familiar jazz ground in their bass and sax interplay. Old bandmate Graham Flight provides a techno keyboard loop on “For Freedom,” where Wyatt’s sampled voice works in a successful but somewhat uncharacteristic fashion. In closing, it’s clear that Hopper has maintained close roots to his Canterbury jazz leanings as fans will no doubt agree.
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more