A group of jazz musicians who have never met or heard of each other can create great spontaneous interactive moments simply because they know how to listen and react. It's one of the amazing things about jazz and jazz players. Usually, though, un- or under-rehearsed groups are more likely to fall back on familiar formulas.  Interaction will sometimes be reduced to occasionally repeating what someone else plays or joining in a repeated rhythm.

To consistently play creatively and interactively, jazz musicians pretty much have to think and play as one unit. They need to listen to the whole ensemble as a piece is unfolding and be willing to adapt to a new reality from moment to moment, rather than force ideas that don't fit what's happening at that point.

Understanding each other's musical thinking, feel for arrangement, composition and even drama takes time and a lot of playing together. If a band isn't constantly gigging there needs to be a lot of rehearsal, and in today's jazz community that's often not seen as cost-effective. As a result, jazz has become a scene of one-off gigs with minimal preparation and everyone reading the music.

Trumpeter John McNeil and saxophonist Jeremy Udden were pissed off at this state of affairs, but instead of just bitching about it they decided to establish a group that would invest the time to evolve as a unit. The result was, and is, Hush Point.

McNeil and Udden had long been familiar with each other on the New York jazz scene, but they didn't work together seriously until they started having informal practice sessions in 2011. McNeil hadn't been aware of the depth and maturity of Udden's writing, and the two found themselves sharing compositional ideas and improvising spontaneous complementary lines. On the same wavelength right from the start, they naturally talked of putting a band together, but when Udden subbed one night in McNeil’s band, the results made it a priority.

They wanted a chordless group that used a lot of interplay and counterpoint, where roles could change with each tune and during solo passages. They wanted the horns and bass to be able to use a wide expressive dynamic range and still be heard even at soft volumes. They felt that if a line can't be heard, why the hell play it?

A lower overall volume would help everything, and a good way to get that is for a drummer to play brushes exclusively. He or she would still have to bring intensity and drive to the music however, and sustaining energy without recourse to volume is not easy nor is it the usual thing. Whoever agreed to use only brushes would have to come up with ways to make it work.  

As always, the bass would need to be harmonically and rhythmically strong, but also able to play contrapuntally, interact conversationally with a soloist, change the harmony in basic ways and still be clear and easy to follow. And be able to juggle small animals.  

Obviously, if Udden and McNeil put such a group together, the drummer and bassist would not just need to be inventive and open to new concepts but willing to rehearse, discuss, and internalize the music. They found two musicians to do it: bassist Aryeh Kobrinsky and drummer Anthony Pinciotti.

Hush Point is now a working, rehearsing and recording quartet, and their CDs show a cohesiveness of concept that is only achieved through hours of practice, performance and experimentation. The stylistic range of their repertoire is very wide, and it all makes for compelling  listening.

Hush Point:   

Jeremy Udden has developed a unique approach in both his playing and composing. The alto saxophonist has been involved in wide-ranging projects – the Either/Orchestra, Ethiopian music with Mulatu Astatke’s ensemble, Czech folk music, you name it. He also played and recorded with legendary musicians like Bob Brookmeyer and Steve Lacy. His own ensembles,  Plainville for example, present a vastly eclectic breadth of music and musicians.  

John McNeil has had a long and varied career since his move to New York in the 1970s. He began subbing in the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra and eventually played with the Horace Silver Quintet and Gerry Mulligan's Concert Jazz Band. He got a record deal in 1977 and soon began leading his own groups, recording some nineteen albums under his own name or in collaboration with other artists. In addition to performing, he works as a composer/arranger and producer.

There are a lot of great drummers in New York City, but not that many were up to the challenges posed by Hush Point. Anthony Pinciotti was not only up to the challenge, he embraced the chance to create something new and he was willing to devote major time to rehearsal. Anthony enjoys a very busy freelance jazz career which has allowed him to play an astounding variety of music, so entering new territory was just business as usual.

In Aryeh Kobrinsky, they found a bassist who is a strong, expressive player who is always ready for anything, and a good writer as well. Aryeh is more harmonically perceptive than most, and always thinks compositionally. Whatever direction a piece of music takes, he just naturally uses it to help shape the overall arc of the performance. 

Though McNeil and Udden put the group together, Hush Point is now a truly cooperative venture, with all four members focused on further developing the group's concept. The four members of Hush Point also disagree with the predominant feeling among jazz musicians that discussing any aspect of creativity somehow makes it less genuine. This workshop approach leads to discussions that can become heated, but it has also led them to develop a common direction and given them the skill to respond instantly to new ideas. 

JOHN McNEIL is regarded as one of the most original and creative jazz artists in the world today. For over three decades John has toured with his own groups and has received widespread acclaim as both a player and composer. His highly personal trumpet style communicates across the full range of contemporary jazz, and his compositions combine harmonic freedom with melodic accessibility. John's restless experimentation has kept him on the cutting edge of new music and has kept him from being easily categorized.

Although his background includes such mainstream jazz groups as the Horace Silver Quintet, Gerry Mulligan, and the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, John is equally at home in free and structured settings. This stylistic versatility has put him on stage with such disparate artists as Slide Hampton and John Abercrombie, and shows itself in the combination of free and structured elements found in his CDs recorded on the OmniTone label from 2003 to '06.

Praised for his “beautiful, round soprano tone,” Composer and saxophonist Jeremy Udden’s newest recording Plainville, was released in 2009 to critical acclaim. Jazzman has called it “a resolutely new music where eclecticism and personal experience play an important role.” The band Plainville is Udden’s newest project and features a more folk-influenced twist, finding a niche on bills with country and folk groups as well as jazz, featuring Udden on sax, backed by a unique combination of pump organ/rhodes, banjo/guitar, bass and drums.

Originally from Plainville, Massachusetts, and now a Brooklyn resident, Udden also performs his torchsongs project (a band described as “melodic jazz-rock” and a self-titled 2006 recording) frequently around New York, the Northeast, and in the past year the West Coast, China, and Scandinavia.

Long-time member of the Grammy nominated Either/Orchestra (Matt Wilson, John Mediski and Miguel Zenon among other alumni), Udden recorded three albums with the band and toured Europe, Africa, and around the US a number of times. Twenty records to his credit as a sideman (Accurate, CIMP, Creative Nation Music, Fresh Sound New Talent, Innova) with projects in the jazz, avant-garde, rock, pop, and world music genres, has helped give his music a “wealth of texture and invention” (Terrell Kent Holmes, All About Jazz New York).

Winner of the 2003 Fish-Middleton Jazz Competition in Washington, D.C. and a 2005 ASCAP Young Composer Award finalist, he recently performed at Carnegie Hall’s Merkin Hall with Joe Lovano, Dave Leibman and Irene Aebi in tribute to Steve Lacy, and as a guest soloist with Gunther Schuller and the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra of Boston at Harvard’s Sanders Theater.

Udden also performs with Dominique Eade, the Jazz Composer’s Alliance, Monika Heidamann, i am the color of dead leaves, Andy Green, Sofia Koutsovitis, Michael Winnograd’s Infection, Bruno Raberg and Mulatu Estatke. Over the years, he has shared the stage or studio with Mahmoud Ahmed, Steve Lacy, The Presidents of the United States of America, Juliana Hatfield, Sam Rivers, Maria Schnieder, the Miracle Orchestra, Darcy James Argue, Charlie Kolhase, Tony Malaby, Bill McHenry, John McNeil, John Hollenbeck, to name a few and too many wonderful musicians in New York, Boston, California, Sweden, Italy, Maine, Washington, China, Portugal and Africa to name.

Udden started playing the saxophone at age 10, and began performing regularly on the Boston club scene at 15 with Big Lick, an eight-piece ska/punk band with two albums and a few US tours to its credit. In high school he was also a member of the All-American Grammy Band. In 1996 he moved to Boston to study with Allan Chase, Jerry Bergonzi, George Garzone, Paul Bley, Charlie Banacos, Steve Lacy, Danilo Perez, Fred Hersch, and Bob Brookmeyer at the New England Conservatory.

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba...
Grew up in Fargo, North Dakota.

Since 2005, he has quickly established himself as a creative and versatile bassist on the New York jazz scene. Aryeh stands at the vanguard of a new generation of instrumental performers for whom the notion of genre is becoming increasingly ambiguous.

Having toured Europe, North Africa, Canada and the United States Aryeh has performed with a wide variety of artists including Tyshawn Sorey, Hal Crook, Andrew D'Angelo, Matt Wilson, Bob Moses and Dominique Eade.

Aryeh is a co-founder of Nowt Records, a not-for-profit cooperative independent label based in Brooklyn. Nowt released his debut album “A Hamster Speaks” in June, 2008. Aryeh can be seen performing regularly with projects/collaborations such as Dan Nettles Kenosha Kid; Pete Robbins Centric; Sara Serpa Quintet; Tony Falco's Internal Combustion Engine; Dominique Eade Quartet; his own quintet, BRINSK; and of course with Hush Point.

Anthony Pinciotti is a dynamic, innovative drummer well versed in jazz, rock, and world music. Based in New York City, Anthony performs and tours extensively with many of the most vital and forward looking musicians on the scene today. Some of the notable musicians Anthony has worked with are: James Moody, Dr. Lonnie Smith, John Abercrombie, Joe Lovano, Randy Brecker, Ira Sullivan, Kenny Werner, Mose Allison, Lew Tabackin, John Patitucci, Jim Hall, Bob Mintzer, Renee Rosnes, George Garzone, Frank Foster, Benny Golson, George Mraz, Houston Person, Toninho Horta, Lynne Arriale, Gary Bartz, Rufus Reid, Vic Juris , Dave Liebman, Kenny Barron, and Sheila Jordan to name a few.

Anthony’s passion for music became apparent when at the age of two he began playing the drums. At the age of thirteen, he started playing professionally throughout the Midwest, working with many Motown and Midwestern jazz greats. By the age of seventeen Anthony had started working with the great multi-instrumentalist Ira Sullivan and soon after relocated to Miami, Florida to be his drummer. After being offered a full music scholarship, Pinciotti briefly attended the University of Miami. In 1994, Anthony moved to Chicago where he quickly became a highly sought after drummer who was consistently called on to back jazz masters touring through the area. In addition to being an in demand sideman, he also led several successful groups containing members of the AACM and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Anthony made the move to New York in 1998 and began working and touring internationally with many of the great musicians that make up the New York jazz scene. He has played at many of the most renowned venues and festivals around the world as well as appearing on numerous recordings. Anthony is also deeply committed to teaching and mentoring. He has given clinics and master classes around the world, as well as teaching at NYU, City University of New York (CUNY) and the New School for Jazz and Contemporary music.