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Kenyon Hopkins


  • Born 15 January 1912
  • Died 7 April 1983, Princeton, New Jersey

A great and much underrated composer of jazz-inflected film scores and musical portraits. Hopkins attended Oberlin College and Temple University, studying composition and music theory. He worked in television beginning in the mid-1950s and branched out into film scoring soon after. His film credits include "Baby Doll," "12 Angry Men," "The Hustler," and "Wild River," and his television credits include "The FBI Story," the George C. Scott social worker drama "East Side/West Side," "The Reporter," "The Twentieth Century," and "The DuPont Show of the Week." He served as musical director for CBS in 1963, and, later, as director of music for Paramount television.

Hopkins was particularly adept at using jazz themes, rhythms, and orchestrations in his scores, often paralleling the down-and-out subjects and settings on screen with what Basic Hip has called, "smoky,gritty, rotten-to-the-core jazz." Carroll Baker's backwoods Lolita in "Baby Doll," Paul Newman's pool shark in "The Hustler," and Ben Gazzara's military school sadist in "The Strange One" are all characterizations that Hopkins complemented with distinctive motifs.

Shock/Panic/Loneyville LPs
He teamed with producer Creed Taylor on a series of atmospheric albums--Shock!, Panic!: Son of Shock, Nervous Beat: Lonelyville, New York, New York, and Ping Pang Pong--for ABC-Paramount. Because Hopkins was on an exclusive artist contract to Capitol Records at the time, he suggested releasing the albums under the name of "the Creed Taylor Orchestra." Ping Pang Pong rates among the best titles ever used on a percussion showcase album, but stays well within the limits of restraint and taste. The best items on it are two original compositions, "Argument" and "Lovers" that were composed for "interpretive dance" pieces performed on "The Perry Como Show."

In the early 1960s, Hopkins arranged and conducted a tame but delightful collaboration between Verve Records and Esquire Magazine. This series of four albums of "impressions in sound of an American on tour" included a mix of stereotypical tunes associated with a country (such as "La Paloma," "Arrivaderci Roma," and "Hawaiian War Chant") and Hopkins originals, played by ace group of New York session men such as Doc Severinsen and pianist Hank Jones. Tossed in amongst the music are evocative sound effects like street traffic (Italy) and bullfight noises (Spain).

Hopkins also wrote modern classical music, including two symphonies and chamber pieces.

For a superb sample of Hopkins' music, including some ultra-rare tracks, check out Basic Hip's page on Recordings by Kenyon Hopkins.


Recordings

  • Contrasting Colors, Capitol ST-1158
  • Swingin'Serenades, Capitol T-1236
  • Ridin' the Rails, Capitol ST-1302
  • Nightmare!, MGM SE 4104
  • Rooms, Cadence 1019
  • Sound Tour: France, Verve V6-50000
  • Sound Tour: Spain, Verve V6-50001
  • Sound Tour: Italy, Verve V6-50002
  • Sound Tour: Hawaii, Verve V6-5003
  • Sound Tour America, Verve V6-DJ3
  • Dream Songs, Verve V6-8694

    Released as "The Creed Taylor Orchestra"

  • Shock! Music in Hi-Fi, ABC Paramount ABC 259
  • Panic! Son of Shock, ABC Paramount ABC LP
  • Nervous Beat: Lonelyville, ABC Paramount ABC 308
  • New York, New York: The Sound of New York, ABC Paramount ABCS 2269
  • Ping Pang Pong: The Swinging Ball, ABC Paramount ABCS 2325

    Soundtrack albums

    • The Strange One, Coral CRL 57132
    • The Hustler, Kapp KL-1264/KS-3264
    • Lilith, Colpix 5520
    • Baby Doll, Columbia CL 958
    • The Reporter, Columbia CS 9069
    • East Side/West Side, Columbia CL 2123/CS 8923
    • Eleven Against the Ice, RCA Victor LPM-1618
    • The Fugitive Kind, United Artists UAS 5065
    • The Yellow Canary, Verve V6-8548
    • Mister Buddwing, Verve V6-8638
    • This Property is Condemned, Verve V6-8664


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Search GEMM for old recordings by Kenyon Hopkins.


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