JC HOPKINS’ NEW RELEASE- IT’S A SAD AND BEAUTIFUL WORLD

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JC HOPKINS’ NEW RELEASE- IT’S A SAD AND BEAUTIFUL WORLD

                          J.C. HOPKINS’ NEW RELEASE, IT’S A SAD AND BEAUTIFUL WORLD
                                   WHICH FEATURES GARTH HUDSON AND LEVON HELM
                                                     WILL FINALLY SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY
The Album, which will be released on July 12, Also Features an Impressive Array of Jazz Greats and Notable Singer-Songwriters
There are some musicians who defy genre limitations, whose work spans a such wide spectrum that it simply does not allow them to be labelled or categorized.  Multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer JC Hopkins is just such an artist. He’s produced albums for Victoria Williams, Ben Fields and John Lithgow (whose Sunny Side of the Street earned a Grammy as Best Children’s album,) has earned two Grammy nominations for his work with Norah Jones and Willie Nelson, and co-wrote “Painter Song,” which was featured on Jones’ multi-Grammy winning debut album. He’s performed in various, clubs around New York City with vocalists such as Jones, Elvis Costello, Madeline Peyroux, and Martha Wainwright. That was where he found himself just as the events of 9/11, which so affected him that he was inspired to write the title track of the new album.
With the July 12 release of It’s a Sad and Beautiful World, Hopkins returns to the early 2000s when he recorded an album featuring an incredible array of musicians performing on its eight tracks. Levon Helm and Garth Hudson of The Band join Hopkins on two songs (“Upside Down” and “Walking Cane”), with Hudson staying on board for another five, playing accordion, Hammond organ, drums, piano, melotron and melodica. Other notable folk and rock musicians who joined Hopkins in the studio near Woodstock for the session are Teddy Thompson (son of folk icons Richard and Linda Thompson) and Martha Wainwright, the singer/songwriter who is the daughter of Loudon Wainwright and Kate McGarrigle and whose expansive resume includes work with Snow Patrol and Hole.
“I had Teddy Thompson, Catherine Popper and Garth Hudson lined up to record songs I had written in the aftermath of the events of September 2001,” remembers Hopkins. ‘All we need is a drummer,’” I said to Catherine. ‘How about Levon?’ she replied.” Hopkins goes on with his story. “Levon had a gig coming up at the Bottom Line. The sessions were over a month away, so I figured we had plenty of time. Backstage I asked him. He told me that it sounded like fun and for me to call him tomorrow. So, I called him the next day and he said the same thing, sounded like fun and for me to call him tomorrow. Well, I did this every day for three weeks until I found myself at beautiful Allaire Studios, on top of a mountain above Woodstock. ‘What are we going to do without a drummer?’ Catherine asked. I called Levon’s house, and his wife Sandra told me that he wasn’t there. ‘Ah, okay,” I said, trying not to sound as crestfallen as I felt. ‘I think he is on the way to the studio,’ she finished.”
“Garth Hudson turned up at around midnight that same day. Martha had given me his number but told me that Garth’s midnight is our noon. And he came every midnight that whole week, adding melodicas and mellotrons and other things with keys,” finishes Hopkins.
Hopkins had originally come to New York to pursue his Biggish Band dream. That jazz group has gone on to record two highly successful albums, Underneath a Brooklyn Moon and Meet Me at Mintons. Explaining the integration of jazz with his singer/songwriter chops on It’s a Sad and Beautiful World, Hopkins says, “I come to jazz and all of my musical endeavors as a songwriter. I study the various forms; in the case of jazz it was the Great American Songbook and the music of such artists as Thelonious Monk. For folk, I studied the music of Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan, and for rock, it was the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the like. There is a great deal of interaction in all of this music.”
Prior to heading north to record It’s a Sad and Beautiful World, Hopkins recruited some of the remarkable jazz musicians with who he had been working – Vincent Chancey, Victor Lewis, Seamus Blake, Sunny Jain, Warren Smith and James Zollar – to lay down some tracks. “Hearing Victor Lewis playing a rock beat, you know that he is not just a jazz musician, he’s a great musician period,” says Hopkins. “There was a time when the singer-songwriter types and the jazz musicians were all always working together, and having jazz clubs, rock clubs, folk clubs and even burlesque clubs in close proximity on New York’s lower east side reinforced a sense of community.”
Once the recording was finished, Hopkins returned to New York City, where his career took a turn toward producing and working with his Biggish Band. The tracks remained in the vault. “This spring, I bumped into Matthew Cullen, who had engineered the project. He enthusiastically agreed to master the songs so there was no sense to keep them locked away any longer,” explained Hopkins. “I like the way they sound. They sound like New York City and they sound like Woodstock. The songs are earnest, and the musicians play with conviction. It was a sad time for this country, similar in many ways to this moment. But it was beautiful, making music with talented friends. I am glad it was captured and that I can now release it.”
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