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Hush Point: Blues and Reds

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Hailing as it does from within the notably exploratory Brooklyn scene, an album as appealingly old-school as Hush Point’s Blues and Reds is an unexpected surprise. Substitute a baritone saxophone for Jeremy Udden’s alto, and this sophomore effort from the pianoless quartet could almost be mistaken for a lost recording from the classic Gerry Mulligan/Chet Baker foursome that helped define the cool subgenre.

Blues and Reds maintains a consistently mellow tone, muted but swinging. Udden and trumpeter John McNeil never overdo the bop histrionics as they weave an emphatic yet delicate groove through 10 original compositions: five by Udden, four by McNeil and one, the sharp-edged, loping “Scuffle,” by bassist Aryeh Kobrinsky. Udden’s breathy romanticism and the deft mallet work of drummer Anthony Pinciotti lend Udden’s “Dreams” a swoony midnight feel, while McNeil’s tastefully charging horn drives his composition “HDMB.” (The press notes indicate that the acronymic title stands for either “Highly Derivative Minor Blues” or “Hello Dave Matthews Band.”)

Kobrinsky’s rich-toned arco bass imparts a light classical flavor to Udden’s “Moments of Truth” and to McNeil’s “Petit Moineau,” named in tribute to Edith Piaf, the “first love” of the trumpeter’s boyhood. Pinciotti swings skillfully throughout, his brushes and chiming percussion effects creating a particularly strong impression on the swaggering, Asian-inflected “Wu Wei.” The album’s final track, “Four and More,” is described in the press notes as a “mystery tune”; the band claims that decoding clues hidden in the title will allow listeners to “figure out where the chord progression comes from and win a car.”

Cheeky press materials aside, Blues and Reds is an album pleasantly free of irony. It’s not the most groundbreaking recording to come out of Brooklyn in 2014, but you’d be hard pressed to find a more easily enjoyable listening experience.

Originally Published