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Clutchy Hopkins is one of the most inscrutable musical characters you'll ever meet, if you could meet him. No one seems to know who he is, including and especially his record label, or even if Clutchy Hopkins is a singular him or a collective them. Complicating the matter, The Story Teller has vocals but not one single lyric. So how does this person who may not even be a person use no words to tell a story?
The same way that a haiku can tell a story: by connecting threads of barely sketched yet evocative pictures that create, reflect and repeat quick scenes of mood and thought, and then dissolve like mist. The Story Teller loosely connects a series of thoroughly minimalist sound portraits, without one instrumental or vocal solo.
"Miles Chillin'" builds up from what almost sounds like spare piano, electric guitar and African percussion parts, in a production that gives just as much importance to these instruments as to the space around and between them. So does the spaced-out, frozen chill of "Drunk Socks," which rocks off its hypnotic bass line. "No Contact...Contact" conjures a deeper, more psychedelic mood: a soft vocal chant drones in harmony with acoustic guitar while an electric guitar from the 1960s dances with hip-hop drums from the 1990s, and flute floats in and out like a curious, fluttering butterfly.
Our protagonist(s)whoever he is / whoever they areroll up to "Truth Seekin'" in a jitterbugging jalopy, blasting out clunky little horns that sing along with its engine, cruising in low fidelity on soft and warm funky drums that sound like brushes on cardboard. This set's minimalist facade crumbles just once, to reveal a happily busy percussion break in "Thinkin' of Eva."
The Story Teller doesn't give you an awful lot to go on and seems to leave most of the story blank, for you to fill in for yourself.
Track Listing: Giraffe Crack; Laughing Jockey; No Contact...Contact; Miles Chillin'; Nina; JT Goldfish; Truth Seekin'; Thinkin' of Eva; Light as a Feather; Drunk Socks; Verbal Headlock.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.