J.D. Records www.jdhopkins.com
16 “songs” on 2 discs
Frank Singer: Midi Guitar, Keyboards, and Midi Percussion – all songs
Mike Ohm: Guitar and Midi Guitar on all songs
David Blaetz: Bass (on 1,3,7,9,12,15)
Tony Stefanelli: Bass (on 1,3,4,5,7,8,9,11,12,13,15)
Kenny Cornelius: Bass (on 2,6,10,14)
Sheldon Peterson: Guitar (on 7,9)
Jayson Hopkins: Roland Electric Drums, all songs except 9
Rickie Hopkins: V-Drums (on 4), Acoustic Drums on the rest
Randy Hetherington: V-Drums (on 6)
Scott Cravener: Guitar (on 2,6,10,14)
J.D. Hopkins: V-Drums, Electric Drum Pads, all songs except 6
“We decided to remain in the same format on this, our fourth CD: on the spot improvisation. On six of these songs, we used both Tony and Dave. The double bass format worked beyond my imagination. Neither Tony nor Dave had worked in a double bass situation, but handled themselves well enough technically and tastefully that I found what they did quite amazing. Sheldon played with us for the first time, but it won’t be the last. Frank and Mike obviously always make it work and are permanent fixtures with us. Everyone seems comfortable with our floating polyrhythmic concept. Kenny and Scott add a different dimension which makes this project a well-rounded musical journey.
We hope you enjoy what we are doing. All these players know how to create musical images that are colorful, complex, and flowing. Jason, Ricky and I just love working with this amazing group of people.”
“On the spot improvising,” “Floating Polyrhythmic concept,” and “Images that are colorful, complex, and flowing” almost say it all. I can think of another way to say it: “The Miles Davis electric period didn’t end in 1975.” Now THAT’S saying something.
Many artists have tried to recreate the spontaneous combustion that pure musical improvisation is capable of, some succeed, most fail. J.D. Hopkins and the Sons of Rhythm set themselves apart because they make no effort whatsoever to play “songs”; therefore, they have complete freedom to really improvise “on the spot.” The key ingredient that makes everything work is the hard driving Polyrhythms created by all the percussionists and the sensitive bass playing that embellishes the drum work. They work so well together it’s hard to imagine that everything they do is a jam. Another key ingredient is the ensemble gathered here is all ears and full of respect. They listen to each other and don’t step on each other’s toes.
Total improvising is a very risky business and if it’s not done well, can easily sound like a catfight refereed by Bobcat Goldthwait and Gilbert Gottfried. To be perfectly honest, there are parts that are less coherent than others, and even some parts that might be considered a little too Avante Garde for the average listener. However, that is to be expected when improvising at such a risky level of freedom.
This is the real deal, total improvisation with a groove. I personally give J.D. a lot of credit for gathering such high caliber musicians together and playing music that’s so full of risks that many musicians either won’t go near it or can’t even play it.
One of my favorite quotes from Miles Davis comes to mind when I hear this great music. Miles was being heavily criticized for the music from “On The Corner” and his paraphrased response was: “Let’s see you do it”
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