Hugh Hopper


No bass player defies categorization more so than the late, truly great, utterly unpredictable Hugh Colin Hopper, who was among the most prolific and adventurous recording artists to emerge from the England’s hallowed Canterbury progressive rock and experimental jazz scene of the late 1960s and early 70s.

Hugh never ran out of fresh ideas or novel ways to express himself on our beloved instrument. Music fans of this era are most aware of Hugh by way of his groundbreaking work with Soft Machine wherein Hopper’s exploratory use of fuzz and various effects along with his extensive rhythmic and harmonic vocabulary was the glue that held multi-instrumentalist Robert Wyatt, keyboardist Mike Ratledge, saxophonist Elton Dean and other assorted Machine band mates together for an amazing run of releases during his 1968 – 1973 membership.

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I highly advise seeking out Hugh’s brilliant work with Soft Machine to stoke your creative fire – especially on the landmark Third (1970), and Fourth (1971) collections. Of his massive solo and collaborative canon, check out his fusion avant-garde oriented forays 1984 (1973), Hopper Tunity Box (1977), A Remark Hugh Made (1994) and Numero D’Vol (2007).

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Hugh also made several notable appearances as a valued sideman on such seminal releases including Syd Barrett’s Madcap Laughs (1969), Kevin Ayers’ Joy of a Toy (1969), Robert Wyatt’s Rock Bottom (1974) and Carla Bley’s European Tour 1977 (1978). A unique and distinctive soloist, composer, accompanist, and improviser, words cannot describe the amazing force of Hugh Hopper – you must hear him for yourself!

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Thomas SemioliComment