Gloriously atmospheric, jagged and intense, 2004's 'The Stolen Hour' was a superb extension of Hugh Hopper's 'Jazzloops' series of explorations written to accompany the distinctive imagery of American comic book artist, Matt Howarth. Assisted by, amongst others, Robert Wyatt (cornet, voice), John Marshall and Didier Malherbe, Hopper updated the Jazz-tinged Minimalist looping he initially developed in the 1960s, evoking the innovative spirit of early Soft Machine, while simultaneously suggesting new possibilities for his music. Matt Howarth's 'The Stolen Hour', the visual inspiration for this landmark in the development of Hopper's truly idiosyncratic talent, is featured as a pdf file on the enhanced CD.
Cardboard sleeve reissue features remastering in 2013 and the high-fidelity Blu-spec CD2 format (compatible with standard CD players). Includes bonus tracks. Originally released in 1973 by the Soft Machine bassist shortly after the band had lost eccentric drummer/vocalist Robert Wyatt and had begun their evolution into a respectable (and somewhat predictable) jazz-rock ensemble, this was Hopper's attempt at something more experimental.
From the remnants of Soft Machine, electric bass guitarist Hugh Hopper and saxophonist Elton Dean formed the quartet Soft Heap to further advance their progressive jazz-fusion oriented ideas. As keyboardist Mike Ratledge, multi-instrumentalist Karl Jenkins, and electric guitarist Allan Holdsworth took Soft Machine into a different, louder arena, Hopper and Dean were more intrigued with the intuitive creative improvised side of the music away from their initially strict Canterbury orientation…
Kick back and turn up the volume! "Playing It Cool" from guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Lowell Hopper is packed with a rich selection of funky grooves and soulful instrumental tracks. A "must have" for your collection!
This classic recording has a beautiful balance of African aesthetics meet American soul, jazz, funk, rock and pop. The songs have a vintage sound that could only have been made by a South African playing American music in 1971. Along these lines, the album cover is the perfect visual representation of the music. While having a 1970's sound, "Hugh Masekela & the Union of South Africa" is by no means outdated, nor will it ever. The disc has an enjoyable mix of slow ballads, township infused instrumentals and fast funk. The song writing is superb, the musical improvisation is good and the voices soar.
Presumably to commemorate his 60th birthday, Hugh Masekela released an album of primarily African works. The album starts with a tribute to Fela, a kindred spirit in African horn playing and a friend of Masekela. After that, it moves on through a number of traditional songs and trips down memory lane. The liner notes give a good deal of background information on each of the songs (always a plus). From time to time, the music seems to slip into something of a contemporary Harry Belafonte-esque sound (which perhaps might not be completely surprising, given the repeated collaborations between Belafonte and Miriam Makeba, coupled with Masekela's marriage to Makeba). Despite (or due to) any such similarities that may arise, this is international pop at its best. Also, the backing vocals of the Family Factory group are exceptional, at the very least.