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Fred Hopkins gained his greatest recognition as bassist with the co-op trio Air, but he played through the years with most of the top avant-garde musicians and his abilities were well-known to his fellow players. He recorded with Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre in 1970, worked with Henry Threadgill and Steve McCall in the trio Reflection (1971-1972), freelanced in Chicago, moved to New York in 1975, and reunited with Threadgill and McCall as Air (1975 through the mid-'80s); after McCall's departure in 1982, the group (with Pheeroan AkLaff on drums) became known as New Air. Hopkins also worked and recorded with Anthony Braxton, Marion Brown, Oliver Lake, David Murray, Hamiet Bluiett, Craig Harris, Don Pullen, and many others, but strangely enough, never led a record session of his own. Due to health problems, Hopkins stepped down as bassist in Ari Brown's trio in the late '90s and, in January 1999, Fred Hopkins died in his hometown of Chicago.