In the late '80s, Fred Hopkins and Diedre Murray made an effective duo. Their unusual combination of bass and cello allowed for some interesting musical statements. Shortly thereafter they formed a quartet to expand this sound. The new members: Brandon Ross (guitar) and Newman Baker (drums). All four members played at one time or another in Henry Threadgill's groups. The stated idea behind the 1990 recording Prophecy
emphasizes continuity and fluidity of musical thought.
Within a fairly straight-ahead setting, soloists trade off with accompanists in very subtle ways. After all, with three string players in the band, there is quite a bit of overlapping range. Using this freedom of motion, the players come up with some interesting arrangements and improvisational surprises. Indeed, Brandon Ross's playing is quite different from what you might have heard on Cassandra Wilson records: much less formulaic and thus much more interesting.
Occasional forays into a freer sound keep the music from deflating. Indeed, the iron rock of the group is bassist Fred Hopkins, whose range is incredibly broad: in the past, he's played on record with everybody from Vernon Reid to Jemeel Moondoc. His depth and focus keep the band grounded.
Personnel: Fred Hopkins, bass; Diedre Murray, cello; Newman Baker, drums; Brandon Ross, guitar.