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Greg Hopkins Quintet: Quintology

Greg Hopkins, out of Boston, taps two vastly underrated players on Quintology (Summit): tenor saxophonist Bill Pierce and guitarist Mick Goodrick. (Bassist Jim Stinnett and drummer Gary Chaffee complete the lineup.) Except for a midtempo arrangement of “Here’s to My Lady,” all the tunes are by Hopkins, a gifted writer whose difficult lines and insightful harmonizations seem tailor-made for this instrumentation. The vibe is cool restraint and fairly dark hues, even when the music cooks. Goodrick’s round, semiacoustic tone and Pierce’s burly tenor voice make for an arresting combination. Hopkins is solid and inspired on trumpet and fluegelhorn, but he contributes texture more than virtuosity. Of the 10 pieces, the most original and moving is “The Pignoli Letters”: just a notch above a ballad, it ripples with graceful three-part harmonies and features Goodrick at his best. The upbeat swingers “Hidden Agenda,” “Scooter” and “Crackdown” belong largely to Bill Pierce, the former Messenger and present woodwind chairman at Berklee. Hopkins digs in on the medium minor blues “Double Talk,” and pulls back on the softer straight-eighth numbers “Boon Moon” and “Bas Relief.” His jazz is cerebral, unmistakable in its Boston-ness, but with a distinct edge and a steady fire.

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