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Hopper Tunity Box by Hugh Hopper

Of all the bands that made the news/broke the mold/made the biggest splashes in the heyday/glory days of the first wave of Fusion (1969-1974), the UK outfit Soft Machine was a tad underrated, in This Writer's View. Perhaps that's because they originally began as a psychedelic rock band (circa 1967), because they were British white guys with long hair, had virtually "0" funk content, and/or because they were impacted by the minimalist wing of modern classical music (i.e., Terry Riley) - whatever. But most of their stuff, at least through the 70s, stands the test of time, and much their stuff circa 1970/71 is, in the words of our UK cousins, bloody brilliant in its distinctive synthesis of hard bop and free jazz with rock-inspired electricity, aggression, and whimsy.

Which brings us, Dear Reader, to Hopper Tunity Box, the never-before-released on these shores (America, that is) 1977 solo disc by Soft Machine veteran bassist Hugh Hopper. Hopper plays a mean electric bass - no, really, a MEAN electric bass, running in through gnarling fuzz-effects devices 'til it almost sounds like an electric guitar or a baritone sax. Not unlike the Billy Cobham and Mahavishnu Orchestra discs from the early 70s, HTB features tunes with rock-charged, somewhat angular dynamics, orchestral-type textures (w/ occasional Ellington echoes), and freewheeling (though not totally "free"), heated jazz soloing. But it's not all open-throttle throughout - "The Lonely Sea and the Sky" is a very pretty waltz, and an intriguing version of Ornette Coleman's classic ballad/dirge "Lonely Woman."

For those who like their brand of fusion or electric jazz to have some snarl 'n' bite to them, Hopper Tunity Box is like a soaking splash from a bucket of water on a steamy-hot Summer day.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Hugh Hopper
  • CD Title: Hopper Tunity Box
  • Genre: Fusion
  • Year Released: 2007
  • Reissue Original Release: 1977
  • Record Label: Cuneiform
  • Musicians: Hugh Hopper (bass, guitar, recorder, soprano sax, perc.), Elton Dean, Gary Windo (reeds), Marc Charig (cornet, tenor horn), Nigel Morris (drums), Dave Stewart (keyboards), others.
  • Rating: Five Stars
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