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Fred Hopkins
Fred Hopkins
Jan 7, 1999
Age 51 
Heart-Related 
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OBITUARY 
        
 Chicago Sun-Times
 
Fred Hopkins, jazz bassist, dies
 
 

BY LLOYD SACHS ENTERTAINMENT CRITIC 
 

Fred Hopkins, widely acknowledged in avant-garde circles as one of the most fiercely talented, charismatic and original bassists in modern jazz, died Thursday at the University of Chicago Hospital. He was 51. The cause of death was heart-related. Further details were not disclosed. 
 

A South Side native who moved back to his hometown in 1997 after more than 20 years in New York, Mr. Hopkins was best known for his work in Air, an acclaimed trio. Formed in 1975 in New York, it included saxophonist Henry Threadgill and drummer Steve McCall, with whom he had played in the early-1970s Chicago group, Reflection. 
 

An integral part of later Threadgill groups, Mr. Hopkins worked regularly 
with such major figures as Muhal Richard Abrams, David Murray, Anthony 
Braxton and Don Pullen. His stature is reflected in his presence on dozens 
of important recordings. 
 

A product of Capt. Walter Dyett's famed music program at Du Sable High 
School, Mr. Hopkins trained with the Civic Orchestra and later studied the 
bass with Joseph Guastafeste of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. 
 

A free-spirited, hard-living, effusively outspoken individual, he brought a 
carefree brilliance to his playing, which featured sometimes outlandish 
bowing effects. He prided himself on being able to play in diverse settings, 
counting among his important influences the classical bassist (and 
conductor) Serge Koussevitsky as well as jazz bassists Wilbur Ware, Richard Davis and Ray Brown. 
 

``What you want to do is express yourself on your instrument, to share your 
thoughts about sound,'' he said in an interview last year, having just 
formed his first band as a leader. ``But doing that has gotten me in 
trouble. The more creative I become, the more people try to tell me how to 
play. Well, listen, no one is going to tell me how to play the bass. That's 
what I do.'' 
 

``He was one of the most fascinating soloists on the bass I have ever 
heard,'' said trumpeter Malachi Thompson. ``His total approach was so 
unique. He's one of those artists who can't be replaced because to even try 
to do what he did is impossible.'' 
 

Mr. Hopkins is survived by his mother and six siblings. Funeral arrangements were being planned."

 

New York Times
 
 
Fred Hopkins, 51, Experimental Jazz Bassist

By BEN RATLIFF 

               The jazz bassist Fred Hopkins, an important figure of the new jazz in New York during the 1970s and 80's, died on Jan. 7 at the University of Chicago Hospital. He was 51 and lived in Chicago.  

          The cause was heart disease, said his mother, Lula Hopkins.  

          Always playing behind a band leader, Hopkins had a thick, dark sound influenced by Jimmy Garrison and Paul Chambers. He improvised powerfully whether the music had chord changes or not, and the music he was involved with, inspired by the energy of free jazz, was compositionally ambitious, too.  

          He brought a dramatic urgency to bands that included the trio Air and ensembles led by David Murray, Henry Threadgill, Muhal Richard Abrams, Arthur Blythe and Oliver Lake. Hopkins also had a decadelong musical partnership with the cellist Deidre Murray. He made his name as a musician in New York, living there from 1975 to 1996; recently, he moved back to his hometown, Chicago.  

          Hopkins was one of many jazz musicians who studied under Walter Dyett, an imperious, inspiring music teacher at DuSable High School in Chicago. After his early training, Hopkins played in the Chicago Civic Orchestra and studied with Joseph Guastafeste, the principal bassist for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In his mid-20s, he started to play with Abrams and some members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, an influential collective of experimental jazz-based players, though he did not formally join the organization until he moved to New York.  

          But in the underground jazz scene that converged around musicians' loft spaces, Hopkins was most often associated with Air, including Threadgill and the drummer Steve McCall. Formed in 1971 in Chicago as a one-shot affair to provide music for a play about Scott Joplin, Air was an unusual ensemble band, with liquid roles for the musicians, an impressive rhythm section and a humorous, playful take on the problem of jazz composition.  

          Air got together again in New York in 1975 and made nearly a dozen albums through the 1980s.  Meanwhile, Hopkins appeared on such other significant albums of the period as Murray's "Ballads," the Henry Threadgill Sextett's "Just the Facts and Pass the Bucket," "Hearinga Suite" and Craig  Harris' "Black Bone."  

          In addition to his mother, he is survived by his brothers, Allan, Joel, Dennis and Brian, all of Chicago; and his sisters, Jacqueline Graham and Cynthia Hopkins, both of Oak Park, Ill.  
 

 
  
 

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BIOGRAPHY
 
 Music Central '96
Fred Hopkins
 
b. 11 October 1947, Chicago, Illinois
 
Hopkins began to play double bass while a student at DuSable High School in Chicago. In the late '60s he became involved in the AACM. In 1970 he played and recorded with Kalaparush Maurice McIntyre. In 1971 he worked in a trio with altoist Henry Threadgill and drummer Steve McCall, which evolved into the group Air and remained active until the mid-80s. Gifted with a springy, propulsive rhythm and blues-drenched tone, Hopkins is the pre-eminent bass player of his generation. His scything, ‘out’ explorations using the bow combine folk and avant garde classical freedoms to devastating effect. He has contributed to the power of Threadgill's later Sextet in no small way and has supplied rhythmic bounce to the work of Oliver Lake, David Murray (recording on the seminal FLOWERS FOR ALBERT in 1977), Hamiet Bluiett, Marion Brown, Muhal Richard Abrams, and Craig Harris. In 1988 he toured in a trio with Murray and the founder of free drumming, Sunny Murray, showing that the spirit of leaderless free jazz is still alive.  
 
 
 
  
 
 

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Forced Exposure:
Search Results for keyword: Fred Hopkins

    Artist: MARCELLO MELIS,
Title: Free to Dance
Label: BLACK SAINT (ITALY)
Format: LP
Price: $6.00
Catalog Number: BS LP 023
Melis & Fred Hopkins (bs), Sheila Jordan and Jeanne Lee (vocals), Lester Bowie & Enrico Rava (tp),
George Lewis & Gary Valente (tbn), Don Pullen (p), Nana Vasconcelos & Don Moye (perc). Much
late-60s space-zoned atmospherics and energy on this great "dance soundtrack."



    Artist: WORLD BASS VIOLIN ENSEMBLE,
Title: Bassically Yours
Label: BLACK SAINT (ITALY)
Format: LP
Price: $6.00
Catalog Number: BS LP 063
Phil Bowler, Greg Maker, Rufus Reid, Bob Cunningham, Brian Smith & Fred Hopkins.


    Artist: DAVID MURRAY QUARTET,
Title: Tenors
Label: DIW (JAPAN)
Format: CD
Price: $18.00
Catalog Number: DIW 881
Murray, Dave Burrell, Fred Hopkins, Ralph Peterson; studio recordings, 1988. Covering Ayler, Coltrane,
Ornette, Rollins, etc.


                  Artist: DAVID MURRAY BIG BAND,
               Title: South Of The Border
               Label: DIW (JAPAN)
               Format: CD
               Price: $18.00
               Catalog Number: DIW 897
18 piece band, conducted by Butch Morris, with Don Byron, Fred Hopkins, Craig Harris, John Purcell,
etc. Danger notice: the Latin "bag" gets opened here and much Caribbean feels emanates..


                  Artist: DAVID MURRAY,
               Title: For Aunt Louise
               Label: DIW (JAPAN)
               Format: CD
               Price: $18.00
               Catalog Number: DIW 901
1993 NYC session featuring Murray (ts, bcl), Fred Hopkins (b), John Hicks (p), Idris Muhammad (d).
Solid playing from all, but can you afford to care? Initial copies come in the LP-styled gatefold jackets.


                  Artist: DAVID MURRAY/JAMES NEWTON QUINTET,
               Title:
               Label: DIW (JAPAN)
               Format: CD
               Price: $18.00
               Catalog Number: DIW 906
August '91 recordings with Murray (ts, bcl) joining John Hicks (p), Billy Hart & Andrew Cyrille (d), Fred
Hopkins (b) and James Newton (flute). "Meeting after 14 years blank of the best friends since their
college days it's actually best & top-level collaboration album in the recent jazz field."


    Artist: DIEDRE MURRAY/FRED HOPKINS,
Title: Firestorm
Label: VICTO (CANADA)
Format: CD
Price: $14.00
Catalog Number: VICTO 020
Studio duos for cello and bass. "It's a pleasure to hear Diedre Murray out front, laying into lines,
pulverizing pizzicato riffs, swooping through episodes from her own pen. And not since Air has Fred
Hopkins recorded in such a concentratedly communicative setting; he sparkles from end to end." -- John
Corbett



 

from posting:

I was greatly saddened to hear of Fred Hopkins' death.  I met him once
after a David Murray show in 1994 and we talked for hours about music,
love, religion and many other topics.  He was truly a rare soul.
Here is a quick list of his recordings.  I'm sure there are some that
I missed; please e-mail me with additions, etc.
 

George Scala
scala@mindspring.com
http://www.mindspring.com/~scala

Kalaparusha (Maurice McIntyre)  Forces and Feelings     Delmark 425
12/11/70
Air             Air Song        Why Not 7123    9/10/75
David Murray    Live at Peace Church    Danola 001      1976
Oliver Lake     Holding Together        Black Saint 0009        3/76
David Murray    Low Class Conspiracy    Adelphi 5002    5/14/76
Various Artists Wildflowers 1   Douglas 7045    5/14/76
Various Artists Wildflowers 2   Douglas 7046    5/14/76
Various Artists Wildflowers 3   Douglas 7047    5/14/76
Various Artists Wildflowers 4   Douglas 7048    5/14/76
Various Artists Wildflowers 5   Douglas 7049    5/14/76
David Murray    Flowers for Albert: The Complete Concert        India
Navigation 1026 6/26/76
Air     Live Air        Black Saint 0034        7/76
Marion Brown    Awofofora       Disco Mate 5002 7/8/76
Air     Air Raid                Why Not 7156    7/15/76
Hamiet Bluiett Quartet  SOS     India Navigation 1039   8/15/77
David Murray & Low Class Conspiracy     Live Vol. 1     Circle 4
8/18/77
David Murray & Low Class Conspiracy     Live Vol. 2     Circle 8
8/18/77
Air     Air Time                Nessa 12        11/17/77
Hamiet Bluiett  Resolution      Black Saint 0014        11/21/77
David Murray    Live at the Lower Manhattan Ocean Club Vol. 1   India
Navigation 1032         12/31/77
David Murray    Live at the Lower Manhattan Ocean Club Vol. 2   India
Navigation 1044         12/31/77
Michael Gregory Jackson Gifts   Arista/Novus 3012       1978
Sunny Murray's Untouchable Factor       Apple Cores     Philly Jazz
1004    1978
Air     Open Air Suit   Arista/Novus 3002       2/21/78
Don Pullen      Warriors        Black Saint 0019        4/78
Marcello Melis  Free To Dance   Black Saint 0023        5/78
Air     Live at Montreux 1978   Arista/Novus 3008       7/22/78
Arthur Blythe   In the Tradition        Columbia 36300          1979
Henry Threadgill        X-75 Volume 1   Arista/Novus 3013
1/13/79
Air     Air Lore        Arista/Novus 3014       5/11/79
David Murray    Sweet Lovely    Black Saint 0039        12/4/79
Arthur Blythe   Illusions       Columbia 36583  1980
The Tom Varner Quartet  The Tom Varner Quartet  Soul Note 1017
8/29/80
Air     Air Mail        Black Saint 0049        12/28/80
Arthur Blythe   Blythe Spirit   Columbia 37427  1981
Various Artists Amarcord Nino Rota      Hannibal 9301   1981
Various Artists God Rest Ye Merry Jazzmen       Columbia 37551  1981
Jemeel Moondoc Trio     Judy's Bounce   Soul Note 1051  11/9/81
The Henry Threadgill Sextet     When Was That?  About Time 1004 1982
Air     80 degrees below '82    Antilles 1007   1/23/82
Various Artists The Young Lions Elektra 96-0196 6/30/82
World Bass Violin Ensemble      Bassically Yours
Black Saint 0063        12/30/82
The Henry Threadgill Sextet     Just The Facts And Pass The Bucket
About Time 1005 1983
Craig Harris    Black Bone      Soul Note 1055  1/4/83
Air     Live at Montreal International Jazz Festival    Black Saint
0084    7/83
Joseph Jarman   Inheritance     Baybridge 189   12/12/83
Hamiet Bluiett  Ebu     Soul Note 1088  2/84
David Murray    Live at Sweet Basil Vol. 1      Black Saint 0085
8/24/84
David Murray    Live at Sweet Basil Vol. 2      Black Saint 0095
8/24/84
Oliver Lake     Expandable Language     Black Saint 0079
9/17/84
Hamiet Bluiett  The Clarinet Family     Black Saint 0097        11/84
The Henry Threadgill Sextet     Subject to Change       About Time
1007    12/84
The Don Pullen Quintet  The Sixth Sense Black Saint 0088
6/12/85
Steve Cohn      The Beggar and The Robot in the Diamonds
ITM/Pacific 970089      1/30/86
David Murray    Recording NYC. 1986     DIW 802 5/10/86
Air     Air Show No. 1  Black Saint 0099        6/2/86
Oliver Lake     Gallery Gramavision 8609        7/86
David Murray/Jack DeJohnette    In Our Style    DIW 819 9/3/86
Henry Threadgill Sextett        You Know the Number     RCA/Novus 3013
10/12/86
John Carter     Dance of the Love Ghosts        Gramavision 8704
11/86
Muhal Richard Abrams    Colors in Thirty-Third  Black Saint 0091
12/19/86
Steve Cohn      Ittekimasu      White Cow 1203          1987
Various Artists Songposts Vol. 1        Word of Mouth 1004
5/14/87
Henry Threadgill                Easily Slip Into Another World
RCA/Novus 3025  9/20/87
Charles Brackeen Quartet        Worshippers Come Nigh   Silkheart 111
11/28/87
Charles Brackeen Quartet        Attainment      Silkheart 110
11/29/87
Ahmed Abdullah and the Solomonic Quintet        Silkheart 109
12/3/87
David Murray Chamber Jazz Quartet       The People's Choice     Cecma
1009    1988
David Murray    Lovers          DIW 814 1988
David Murray    Deep River      DIW 830 1988
David Murray    Ballads         DIW 840 198
David Murray    Spirituals      DIW 841 1988
David Murray    Tenors          DIW 881 1988
John Carter     Fields  Gramavision 8809        3/88
Oliver Lake     Otherside       Gramavision 8901        8/88
Henry Threadgill Sextett        Rag, Bush and All       RCA/Novus 3052
12/88
Muhal Richard Abrams    The Hearinga Suite      Black Saint 0103
1/17/89
John Carter     Shadows on Wall Gramavision 79422       4/89
Frank Lacy      Tonal Weights & Blue Fire       Tutu 888112     1990
David Murray    Special Quartet DIW 843 3/26/90
David Murray    Remembrances    DIW 849 7/30/90
Hamiet Bluiett  You Don't Need to Know...If You Have to Ask     Tutu
888128  1991
David Murray Big Band   Conducted by Lawrence "Butch" Morris    DIW
851     3/5/91
Ivo Perelman    Children of Ibeji       Enja 7005       5/22/91
David Murray-James Newton Quintet       David Murray-James Newton
Quintet DIW 906 8/19/91
David Murray Quartet    Death of a Sideman      DIW 866 10/18/91
Brotzmann/Hopkins/Ali   Songlines       FMP CD 53       10/30/91
David Murray Big Band   South of the Border     DIW 897 5/23/92
Diedre Murray/Fred Hopkins      Firestorm       Victo 020
7/12/92
David Murray & Friends  MX      Red Baron 53224 9/25/92
The Bern Nix Trio       Alarms and Excursions   New World 80437
1/25/93
David Murray Trio       Live '93 Acoustic Octfunk       Sound Hills
8051    7/93
Michael Marcus  Here At!        Soul Note 1243  9/7/93
David Murray Quartet    For Aunt Louise DIW 901 9/14/93
Diedre Murray/Fred Hopkins      Stringology     Black Saint 0143
9/24/93
Lawrence D. "Butch" Morris      Conduction 38, Conduction 39,
Conduction 40   New World 80486 12/11/93
African Love Supreme    Ode To The Living Tree  Venus 79098     12/94
David Murray Octet      Dark Star (The Music of The Grateful Dead)
Astor Place 4002        1/17/96
Vincent Chancey Next Mode       DIW 914
Anne LeBaron    The Musical Railism of Anne LeBaron     Mode 42
Vernon Reid     Mistaken Identity       Columbia 67396
Various Artists Vol. 1-5        KFW 12345