Hugh Hopper biography roundup of 2022 part 2

continuing the story of research and releases during 2022 for ‘Dedicated To You But You Weren’t Listening’ to be published by Jazz in Britain

(part 1 was published here: https://canterburyscene.com/2022/12/31/hugh-hopper-biography-roundup-of-2022-part-1/)

March kicked off with an entertaining hour in the virtual company of Johnny Atkinson, chanteur extraordinaire whose band Hugh played with – Johnny appears singing vocals on several tracks on Hugh’s albums ‘Odd Friends’ and ‘Parabolic Versions’ but has made more recent albums here: https://johnnyatkinson.bandcamp.com/music

Eddy Moust was another of those lesser known names (to me) who had cropped up on Hugh’s timeline, a bit of delving revealed him to be a Belgian guitarist still active on the scene, and he sent me a few lines about his one off gig in a Dutch library with Hugh in 1985!

Eddy Moust

In the middle of the month Richard Sinclair popped up from nowhere for what turned out to be the 50th ‘live’ interview for the book, adding a few thoughts to the story he’d given me a couple of years previously – he has proven to be increasingly active with gigs in the second half of the year in Italy, which is great to see.

Richard Sinclair in conversation!

One of the great unexplained items on the Hugh Hopper discography, which I’d compiled early on in the research process (and which is constantly being added to) is the ‘Mind Capsule’ album, an excellent heavy riffing guitar project from Rob Sadowski over in the States, featuring a monstrously foot-tapping version of ‘Facelift’ including a guest appearance from Hugh himself. A series of email exchanges elicited the full story behind this release, as well, as later in the year two physical copies of the album, one of which I was able to give personally to Hugh’s brother Brian.

Mid March saw a series of lengthy email exchanges with keyboard player Steve Franklin. I saw Steve play alongside Hugh with In Cahoots in 1987, as the ‘odd one out’ amongst a lineup of Canterbury luminaries: Phil Miller, Pip Pyle, Elton Dean and Hugh, but of course he also collaborated with Hugh on both the excellent Numero d’Vol and Conglomerate projects, as well as a near miss for the North and South outfit which went up to Scotland in 1995. Steve got stuck in Bali during COVID and was still there when we communicated!

In Cahoots circa 1987: Steve Franklin far left

Another enticing entry in the timeline was a ‘Childhood Vigil’ at Canterbury Cathedral in 1990 with few further details, and I had a series of exchanges with Pam Mudge-Wood about this event which managed to combine appearances from various luminaries who may have included Richard Sinclair, Andy Ward, Peter Lemer and Ralph Steadman!

The end of the month saw me dipping my toes into researching another series of European musicians of whom I knew little. First of these was saxophonist Peter Ponzol who played alongside Hugh, Elton Dean and Joe Gallivan in Germany in March 1984.

Peter Ponzol

All of this digging into unfamiliar names and places got me thinking – Hugh had an entry in his timeline for November 1994 saying simply ‘dubbing fuzz bass on Morcheeba’. Could this by any chance be ‘the’ Morcheeba, the trip hop outfit that came to the world’s attention in the wake of Portishead, Tricky etc. The dates implied that if Hugh had indeed done a session with Morcheeba, it would precede even the own band’s document of when they first became active. I tracked down Morcheeba’s record label Fly Agaric, who turned out to be run by Ross Godfrey, one of the two brothers who founded the band, and after a couple of promising emails, we ended up speaking – the session did indeed turn out to be a long-lost, day long session for a single track in a neighbouring studio to the Spice Girls, also recording a debut single. Both bands failed to secure a recording deal!

Morcheeba

A brief break from researching, off to see Soft Machine at the Band on the Wall, where we saw former bandmates of Hugh’s Theo Travis, Fred Baker and John Etheridge play a rejuvenated gig with Nic France including Hugh’s ‘Kings and Queens’ before opening up April with the first 4 way interview – myself versus two members of the Delta Saxophone Quartet, namely Pete Whyman and Chris Caldwell, alongside occasional interventions from previous interviewee Frank van der Kooij. We covered the story of the Deltas commissioning composers to interpret classic Soft Machine tracks (many composed by Hugh) for the 2007 ‘Dedicated To You’ album at https://www.deltasax.com/. Myself and Chris went off piste whilst waiting for the others to join the Zoom call when Chris went into the story of the three saxophonists visiting North Korea … more on this at a later date…

Sax appeal: clockwise from top left: Pete Whyman, Frank vd Kooij, Phil Howitt, Chris Caldwell

At the other end of April, to mark Hugh’s birthday we saw the first digital appearance of another track by Far Cry, the trio of Hopper, Hewins and singer Lisa Klossner, this one ‘So Sorry’ https://lisasklossner.bandcamp.com/track/so-sorry

Further delvings into the German/Austrian hinterlands via communication with musicians who had played with Hugh in pop up bands at the Rudersdorf Schnittpunkt festivals in 2005 and 2007, namely drummer Wolfgang Reisinger and guitarist Armin Pokorn who both gave me thoughts about brief appearances with Hugh: sadly Wolfgang passed away later in the year.

Wolfgang Reisinger RIP

The Delta Saxophone Quartet played in York on 8 May: an abbreviated second half of their set consisted almost entirely of Hugh Hopper compositions and is reviewed here https://canterburyscene.com/2022/05/09/the-wizards-of-twiddly-at-st-michaels-church-aigburth-delta-saxophone-quartet-unitarian-chapel-york/

2022 – Part 3 to follow shortly!

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