Hugh Jarvis Hitchcock:
composer, producer, writer, lyricist, arranger, performer, artist, record executive, software engineer
Current projects include: the new Funkmeister CD, and a new album for Jesse Jones Jr.
Hugh has worked on stage or in the studio with the following people of note:
Anita Baker (famed songstress, “Sweet Love”)
Luis Resto (producer, Eminem)
Stephen Bray (writer, Madonna)
Belita Woods (vocalist, P-Funk, Brainstorm “Lovin’ is Really My Game”)
David Lee Chong (synthesizers/writer, P-Funk, “Atomic Dog”)
Larry Fratangelo (percussionist, P-Funk “One Nation Under a Groove”)
Lamont Johnson (bass/vocals, Brainstorm, “This Must Be Heaven”)
Norma Jean Bell (saxophone, Frank Zappa, Santana, Mahavishnu)
Kashif (writer, producer “Love Come Down”)
Carolyn Crawford (vocalist, Bohannon “Get on up ‘n’ Dance, Y’all”)
Shaun Murphy (vocalist, Bob Seger Band, Eric Clapton)
Deon Estus (bassist, Brainstorm, Wham!)
Jeryl Bright (Brainstorm, Cameo)
Paul Reiser (Motown Producer, Diana Ross)
Eddie Kendricks (the Temptations)
L. J. Reynolds (the Dramatics)
Robyn Robins (pianist, Bob Seger Silver Bullet Band “Old Time Rock and Roll”)
Alan Kendall (guitarist, the Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive”)
Noel Pointer (Jazz violinist, “Captain Jarvis”)
Marcus Belgrave (1st trumpet, Ray Charles)
Jesse Jones Jr. (international Jazz Artist, “Soul Serenade”)
Ricky Rouse (guitar, Bohannon “Let’s Start the Dance”)
Roger Miller (founder, Mission of Burma, “Not a Photograph”)
Randall Jacobs (guitar/writer, Was Not Was, “Walk the Dinosaur”)
Bruce Nazarian (Automatix, TV producer)
Jerry Q. Jones (drums, P-Funk, 5 Special)
Angel Canales (cantante, “Bomba Carambomba”)
Mike Hanopol (guitar, “Jeproks” the “father” of Pinoy Rock)
Roger Nichols (producer, Steely Dan)
Jim Gaines (producer, Tower of Power, Huey Lewis and the News)
The Martian Entropy Band consisted of Hugh “the Professor” Hitchcock on guitar, moog synthesizer, farfisa organ, and electric violin, Mike Gould “Spaceman Bassman” on Bass, Vocals, clown horn, and technical know-how, Tim “Mumbles” Prosser on Gibson SG guitar, vocals, and energy stabilization, and Bill Gracie “The Blimp” on drums, excellent attitude, and rubber hose. (Wassup dudes, youse guys are the best!) These days Mike Gould is a Class A Mac Mouse Wrangler.
About a year after the MEB was formed, Hugh entered the University of Michigan School of Music as a composition major, studying under George Balch Wilson and William Bolcom, among others. Eventually, after some years at the university Hugh became disenchanted with the academic scene and opted instead to take the “pop” road exclusively, musically. He began seeking out work in the professional music scene, and found it, playing at first keyboards, and then bass with a number of regional Michigan club groups. The Martian Entropy Band had made an earnest effort to make some noise in the business, but the concept was a little ahead of its time, and it failed to draw commercial support.
So Hugh began to take gigs when they came in. One day, when he got a call for a gig and a bass player was also needed, so he got in touch with Roger Miller, genius guitarist / multi-talented individual, later to become founder of Mission of Burma, the groundbreaking rock group. Hugh had grown up in the same neighborhood as the Miller brothers and with similar backgrounds, and they had done a few things before musically together. So Roger accepted Hugh’s offer to work as the bass player, it was decent money and half the band’s repertoire was made up of heavy fusion material like Cobham, Stanley Clarke, and Chick Corea tunes, with Roger holding down the Stanley role and Hugh doing the Jan Hammer thing. It was a strong combination of funk and dance, so the band worked the Michigan clubs for several months that summer until fallout between the other two (unnamed) members caused the commercial gig to end.
Hugh returned to Ann Arbor, exploring experimental jazz with a group facetiously titled the Nepalese Liberation Orchestra, which performed several live shows at the University of Michigan. This band featured Ann Arborites Hal Davis on guitar, Andy Boller on keyboards, and Mark Blumenreich and Paul Vornhagen on saxophones and flute and Wendell Bigelow on drums. The music was inspired by new frontiers being pioneered by artists like Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett and Weather Report. Sometimes freely improvisational, sometimes with a road map.
Obviously this kind of music did not pay much, so Hugh worked odd jobs, and met Madonna for the first time working as a pizza cook in a bar called Dooley’s on UofM campus where she worked as a waitress. Later he ran into Madonna again while working as an accompanist for dance classes at the UofM where she was a dance student. He played bongos and piano while Madonna danced, many times that year.
Eventually Hugh gravitated towards the kind of music, outside of jazz fusion, that interested him, and other people too — R&B Funk Dance music. Hugh felt that the R&B venue was open enough to be creative and even push the envelope sometimes, while still keeping people interested by being rhythmically consistent (a good beat!) Hugh met up with three excellent musicians including two brothers named Randall and Allan Lynch (currently of the group Randallan) on guitar and drums, and a wonderful bass player named Ron Scott, whose father owned the famous Numark Pest Control company in Detroit. Hearing Ron play was a magical experience, as it was the first time Hugh had ever heard a bass being thumped. Ron was an expert in the techniques of Larry Graham, Louis Johnson, Chuck Rainey and James Jamerson Jr. and Hugh was fascinated with the techniques and prevailed upon Ron for lessons. Ron was Hugh’s first inspiration for learning to play the bass — but that came later.
Hugh, Ron, Randall and Allan named their new band Tymepiece and played a number of shows around Ann Arbor, in other university towns like Ypsilanti and Lansing as well as in and around the Detroit area. At this time Hugh penned the tune Captain Jarvis, which was frequently performed by the group. The song became one of the groups favorites. Eventually the song was picked up by local producer Duane Freeman and shopped to big time producer Paul Reiser, who put it on Noel Pointer’s album “Feel It” for United Artists records. It was the most requested song on Detroit’s WJZZ radio for the year of 1979.
Eventually Hugh got a fender bass, and started practicing what Ron had taught him, and studied recorded music for more techniques. He toured Michigan for a couple of months with the Whiz Kids, Pat McCaffery and Ralph Dudley (yo Ralph a big wassup!) Getting on the bass right then was good timing because it was right at the beginning of the funky disco era. There were plenty of opportunities for good bass players (as he was by now) so Hugh took advantage of that period to stay busy gigging constantly, playing the great funk bass songs like “Got To Be Real” or “Ain’t No Stoppin’ us Now” in packed nightclubs.
One of the bands he worked with in those days was Flyin’ Easy, led by Kent Strange and Bill Platt, with the lovely Misty Love as front-woman. The music was always Detroit-R&B oriented, and often impromptu codas were improvised on the spot with four part harmonies falling in place. Jeryl Bright of Brainstorm and Cameo was often there, as well as L J Reynolds of the Dramatics. Singer Carol Hall also visited the band and sometimes filled in for Misty. Front man Sonny Winston later joined the band. At times a very young Anita Baker would fill in for Misty, and Hugh would on occasion give her a ride home to her mom’s house after the gig. Deon Estus, bass player for Brainstorm, and later to be bassist for George Michael of Wham! would also show up on gigs.
Around this time, Hugh arranged, conducted and performed a project for Les Harvey Productions at Solid Sound studios in Ann Arbor. The project featured Steve Bray, who later co-wrote many of Madonna’s hit songs, on drums, and Hugh on bass and keyboards. Hugh arranged and conducted a 12 piece string section and an 8 piece horn section and the sessions were engineered by Rob and mastered by Billy Talbert of Shotgun. The project performed in a street performance, with Steve Bray on drums and Hugh on bass, and Madonna was in attendance. This was before either Steve or Madonna moved to NYC.
Hugh did other work in the studio for R&B producer Billy Talbert of Shotgun. He provided original horn arrangements and written charts for the horn section for Talbert’s production of Jerry Carr’s ‘This Must Be Heaven’ album. Talbert jokingly referred to Hugh as “Wizard” in the studio.
Before leaving Ann Arbor, Hugh also worked with the Johnnies, a British-punk rock type band. At the same time he was performing with a Latin-Jazz combo known as Picante, featuring Dave Koether and Reggie Smythe on percussions, RonRico Morris on drums, and Dave Mann on saxophone. He also did some gigs with trombonist Sherm Mitchell.
Next up, dynamic drummer RonRico Morris organized a fusion group called SkyHigh, and got some of the best players for it, including Hugh on bass, keyboardist Luis Resto and his brother, guitarist Mario, and sax player Pete Khan. SkyHigh was one of the hottest groups in the area, playing gigs like the Loft on Halloween in downtown Ann Arbor, a hot venue in those days. Much later Luis Resto went on to become the keyboardist for Eminem, producing many of Eminem’s hits.
In those days Hugh could also be found playing bass with the Kevin O’Connell trio at the Earle Jazz club in Ann Arbor, and sundays at the Del Rio Showbar with any number of local jazz virtuoso acts. He also performed and helped guide the jazz improvisation alternative group Tantra, which would be seen every summer on the big stage outdoors at the annual Ann Arbor Art Fair for several years running.
As Hugh moved closer to R&B, he also moved closer to Detroit. He was in the original lineup for the Detroit group the Automatix, featuring Bruce Nazarian on guitar, Shaun Murphy from Bob Seger’s band on lead vocals, and Jerry Q Jones of the Funkadelics and the 5 Special on drums.
Hugh had heard of the Detroit disco group Brainstorm from bassman Ron Scott, who told him all about what he called the “funky little energy” of Eugene Lamont Johnson, the highly individualistic bassist, vocalist and writer from Brainstorm’s original lineup. Hugh sought out Lamont, who was impressed with Hugh’s ability and eventually made him the second bass player / understudy for the road show he was putting together for his solo album “Music of the Sun” along with Joe Castrodale on guitar. Lamont was definitely considered one of Detroit’s finest bass players, but his tour did not materialize, so Hugh looked for work elsewhere.
After a short stint in Florida he ended up working with high energy saxophonist / vocalist / bandleader Norma Jean Bell, for her house gig at Axel’s nightclub on Eight Mile Road in Detroit, playing three shows a night for the entire year of 1983. In Norma’s band were Belita Woods and Treaty Womack from the famous Detroit Group Brainstorm, also Lamont’s ‘alma mater’ group. Hugh was extremely thrilled to be working with these people, because not only did he love Brainstorm since the Ron Scott days, but he’d also been a fan of Norma Jean Bell since he’d seen her perform with Frank Zappa at Cobo Arena in 1975. Also in her group at Axel’s were David Lee Chong, the producer of several Funkadelic tracks including Atomic Dog, Singer David Ball, and Randy Jacob, steady guitarist for the Michael Henderson show and studio guitarist on his hit singles. Guests that played onstage with the band included guitarist Earl Klugh, keyboardist Greg Phillinganes, and percussionist Larry Fratangelo.
Before leaving Michigan, Hugh did some shows with Marcus Belgrave, the virtuoso trumpeter who’d made a name with Ray Charles Orchestra. But ultimately, the cold weather in Michigan won out and so Hugh moved to Florida permanently in 1984. In Florida, Hugh continued penning songs and performing shows. Among the people he’s worked with in Florida: Will English, Jesse Jones Jr. Bobby Pruitt, the Platters; Robin Robbins, the original pianist with the Bob Seger Silver Bullet Band; Alan Kendall, lead guitarist of the Bee Gees; K.C. of the Sunshine Band; Roger Nichols, producer of Steely Dan; Jim Gaines, Nashville producer of Huey Lewis and Tower of Power.
Hugh first met the guys in the Z-Nix band at Monty Trainers in Coconut Grove on New Year’s Day 1987 when they needed a quick replacement. This was the beginning of a twenty year long musical relationship. The band consisted and continues to consist of the some of the finest musicians — and people — in Miami: Larry Hirt on drums, Bob Conde on guitar, Gabriel Vales on bass, Mario Smith on bass and saxophone, Jimi Rucollo on guitar. The Monty Trainers gig lasted, full time, for more than two years.
After Monty’s, Hugh’s group “Hitchcock Presents” entertained visitors to Greenstreet’s in Coral Gables nightly for more than one year, featuring Mario Smith and Jesse Jones Jr. alternately on saxophone. After that, Hitchcock was hired with Gerald Dmitri to be the house band at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, and worked nightly there for a year. Hugh was the musical director, keyboardist and arranger for a Latin music show which played in Tokyo, Japan over the Christmas season of 1994.
Another frequently played venue for Hugh has been Bayside Marketplace open air amphitheatre on Biscayne Bay in downtown Miami. He has performed there with many groups including the Z-Nix Band, Captain Harry, Ernie Garza “Coyote”, and his own group. Hugh has also worked both as a bass player and a keyboard player with international merengue group The Miami Meren-girls, featuring Diane Baez and he’s also done some producing with them in the studio. He’s worked many times with Ernie Garza “Coyote” at Bayside and in the recording studio.
In 1989, Hugh had first met Mike Hanopol. Mike is a wonderful hard rock guitarist, vocalist and songwriter. His music ranges from rock along the lines of ZZ Top to more sensitive pop tunes, always with a rock edge. Mike is Philipino star and was very successful as a rock recording and touring act in his home country, considered as popular as the Beatles there, but he was in Miami working for Julio Iglesias as a houseboy because he’d had some difficulties with the regime change in his home country, and had lost his recording contract with Sony when he fled the country. Hugh produced what was to be Mike’s comeback album to the Phillipines, Pilyong Bata or Bad Boy, released in 1993. One particular song on the album was very popular back in the Phillipines, Buhay America or Working in America. The album enabled Mike to get his foot in the door of the music biz back home, where he relocated and continued to produce more works such as his latest album Tribu Kemistri.
Hugh has also worked extensively with Miami master conguero, Joe Collado, whom he had first met at Monty Trainer’s back in 1987, and again at Bayside. Through Joe, Hugh has worked with bands Mombazz, Khadir, latin rock guitarist Galo Rivera (currently being featured on Mega94), and renowned Puerto Rican Salsero Angel Canales, who is Joe’s cousin.
Eventually Hugh’s interests took him out of the clubs and into the binary world of the computer, where he learned midi programming and recording. Hugh got his first real computer in 1987, and shortly thereafter began working for various companies as a music programmer, creating authentic midi re-creations of cover tunes for decent pay until the business revolutionized and no longer supported that work. But by then, Hugh had become very proficient in the operation and administration of computer systems, and realised, with the world wide web coming into view, that there was an opportunity in software development. So in 1995 he undertook the challenge and gained the skills of a software engineer, which serve him to this day, not only in a professional career as a software architect, but also as a recording engineer and music composer in the digital realm.
Hugh owns a private software consulting firm. He has had the pleasure now for more than ten years, of working with a remarkable company, that being Camper & Nicholsons, known as the world’s oldest yachtbuilding company and luxury yacht brokerage. Based in London, Monaco and Antibes, CNI handles the higher end superyachts internationally, such as those you see in a James Bond movie or a Miss Universe pageant feature. Their web site at www.cnconnect.com has been managed, designed and programmed by Hitchcock’s firm now for over ten years.
While Hugh oversees software development, he also continues composing in the studio, as well as performing locally with a musical group. Bound by a 20-year-long friendship and extended family ties, the band known as either the Z-Nix band, or alternatively, The Crush (depending on who’s leading at the time) can be heard weekly at O’Malleys Ocean Pub, an open air venue within throwing distance of the Atlantic ocean. The personnel: Larry Hirt the monster on drums, Bob Conde the latin funk-rock-meister on guitar, Gabriel Vales the soulful spiritual vocalist-bassist, and Jimi Ruccolo, the fiery guitar wizard, soulful singer and musical director for the venue. Check Hugh’s show schedule on MySpace for performance dates.
Hugh has a beautiful Hondurena wife and owns a home in suburban Miami. In 2000 he was awarded a first degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do from Miami master instructor Young Soo Do.
While Hugh has accomplished a lot in many areas, he feels remiss in not having released a solo CD yet. To make up for lost time, his first CD, encompassing unreleased works created before the turn of the millenium, will be entitled “Pre-Digital” and will be releasing the first quarter of 2008, to be followed immediately by a “post-digital” set of compositions to be released on what will surely be the first of many new CDs to come. The pre-digital album is an eclectic mix of funk, dance, R&B, urban jazz, and progressive electronic fusion. Subsequent albums will probably fall in the genre of creative urban style funk-jazz with some dance house elements. Stay tuned for details.
Hugh sends a big “BuyaKasha” to all his great friends. “I hope you all stop by, listen to my jams and be my friends on My Space! ‘n’ remember, Quit Cryin’ ’cause it Ain’t Nothin’ but a Groove, y’all!”