for hugh hopper across the pond

hugh hopper

hugh hopper

We send supportive and positive thoughts over the Atlantic this weekend. Convening at London’s 100 Club on Sunday will be collaborators, co-horts and musical friends playing a benefit concert honoring bass guitarist Hugh Hopper.

A signature member of the most influential lineups of Soft Machine, Hopper has long provided a happy meeting ground for prog, free jazz, fusion and psychedelia within his music. Since June, he has also been battling leukemia.

As jumping on a plane overseas for the Sunday benefit isn’t exactly a luxury even his most devout fans can afford, we instead suggest a spin or two of Hopper’s recordings this weekend in his honor.

Not familiar with Hopper? Lots of folks aren’t. Here are a few essential albums:

+ Soft Machine: Third (1970) The defining record by the classic early ‘70s Softs lineup with Hopper’s monstrous “fuzz bass” sound rounding out the band’s ensemble drive.

+ Hugh Hopper: Monster Band (1978): A tough one to find, but well worth a search. The half studio/half live recording compiles wonderfully organic sessions from 1973-74.

+ Soft Mountain: Soft Mountain (2007): A live 2003 recording of two extensive improvs between Hopper and saxophonist/one time Soft Machine mate Elton Dean (who died in 2006) along with a keyboardist and drummer from Japan.

+Hugh Hopper: Numero D’Vol (2007): Another brilliant return to quartet form with the spirit of Dean channeled by Simon Picard. Hopper colors spaced out ambience, jazz jams and lean, meditative grooves.

Hopper’s spirits and outlook seem high as his lengthy convalescence continues. In a late November posting on his website, the bassist said:

“Hospital says I’m clear of bad cells. Thanks to everyone who has sent healing vibes, best wishes, postcards from all around the world, cash. I’m still getting my strength back slowly. But it’s coming…”

More reflective of Hopper’s animated spirit was this Nov. 15 posting/comment regarding his benefit concert’s performance roster, which includes Soft Machine alumni John Etheridge, John Marshall and Roy Babbington: “Almost worth getting leukemia to be able to assemble a line-up like that.”

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