b. 9 May 1946, Detroit, Michigan, USA. Playing trumpet from childhood, Hopkins’ professional career began in Detroit in 1965, where he worked for some years with local bands supporting artists who included Marvin Gaye and Gladys Knight. Following graduation from Michigan State University in 1969, he played with various bands eventually joining Buddy Rich, touring and appearing on record (Roar Of ’74 and Stick It). From the late 70s he taught at Berklee College Of Music, becoming Professor of Jazz Composition. Among jazz and pop artists with whom he has shared stages or has accompanied and sometimes recorded are George Adams, George Schuller, Louie Bellson, Dizzy Gillespie, Johnny Mathis, Billy Maxted, Herb Pomeroy, Frank Sinatra, Lonnie Smith, Joe Williams, Stevie Wonder, and Lena Horne. He has also played classical music with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Pops Orchestra, and the Boston Brass Ensemble. Venues at which he has appeared include the Newport Jazz Festival and the Monterey Jazz Festival. Hopkins has played in theatre pit bands, including productions of West Side Story, Porgy And Bess, My Fair Lady, The King And I, and A Chorus Line. Studio credits include working as arranger for Groove Merchant Records, Motown Records, and RCA Records.
Hopkins’ writing and arranging talents were well displayed on Hidden Agenda, a hard-to-find album, on which were recreated the orchestral sound originated by Gil Evans for both Claude Thornhill and Evans’ own ‘tuba band’. The band for this 1997 session, Jazz Nonet, was built around ‘the Jazz Professors of Arizona State University’ and guests. Hopkins also wrote the arrangements for and conducted a big band he co-led with trumpeter Wayne Naus on a recording date with vocalist Maggie Scott. His composition, ‘Inner Voyage’, was premiered by Pomeroy at Berklee. His own bands include the Cryogenic Renaissance Orchestra, a quintet, and a 16-piece big band. Since 2000, he has also played in the trio Tre Corda with pianist Tim Ray and cellist Eugene Friesen. An imaginative writer, Hopkins has brought to his performing and teaching careers intelligence, enthusiasm and a clear vision of the direction to be taken by new jazz musicians and their music.