Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2012 July 30 • Monday

Kenyon Hopkins's score for The Hustler is the 228th Soundtracks of the Week.

"Main Title (Stop & Go)" has interesting shifts in rhythm and tempo creating a foundation for tasteful alto sax soloing and hand percussion statements. This is followed by "Minnesota Fats", which begins with urgent-sounding brushes on snare. Blends of horns add tension while occasional swinging solo statements take it away.

An unsettled, somewhat "down" mood is followed by a slower, bluesier part in "The Loser". "Sarah's Theme" is a lyrical and romantic piece that has nice interplay between piano and alto.

After that comes "4 Flights Up", a textural, moody piece. The rhythm section comes in only at the very end to conclude it on a gently swinging note. The mood is continued in "Fast Buck" before getting into a more lilting kind of swing feel. The bass and hand percussion are particularly good.

"Small-Time Charlie" is a meditative cue with lots of space. "Bert's Theme" is an upbeat, carefree jazz tune with a hint of "Night Train" rhythm.

Several of the other cues recall "Small-Time Charlie" in one way or another. These include "Contract with Depravity" (except when it swings at the end), "All Thumbs", "Lipstick on a Mirror" and "End Title".

"Dining Out" is a feature for the guitar and sounds a bit like an improvisation on a slow version of the main title. "Derby Time" is after-hours solo piano playing, slow and relaxed. "The Winner" is a subdued jazz/swing piece.