“His guitar and vocals pulse with clear emotional intent throughout…”

Downbeat   Frank John Hadley

 

“…really blues-oriented and full of greasy-good slide guitar.”

Nashville Blues Society   Don Crow

 

"His mastery of the instrument is showcased here with forays into the upper stratosphere of the fretboard."

Roots Music Report   Mark Gallo

 

“stellar 9 song gumbo of blues, jazz, funk and R&B that burns red hot from beginning to end”

Metronome magazine

 

"Stew Cutler is that honest to goodness real deal, and very much so. There’s no smoke and mirrors here friends, there’s no need; Cutler’s music speaks for him in an assured, knowing, expressive voice that leaves no doubts as to its authenticity."

Barry Kerzner

 

“Stew Cutler and Friends play Every Sunday Night, and they still want to – in your CD player!”

Rainey Wetnight   Blues Blast Magazine

Drop on in every Sunday night and hear us play. After listening to Stew Cutler’s album Every Sunday Night that is exactly what you will want to do and you will be checking out his website to figure out where he is playing his next gig. For the first time in more than a decade (our fault not his) we sat down with the affable guitarist / composer and talked about his new album.  

The album opens with “The Grind” introduced by Nick Semrad’s organ, percussion by Bill McClellan and a scintillating guitar solo by Cutler. If you like Funk and you salivate over a good groove with a late night nightclub feel then you are going to love “The Grind.”

Cutler talks about when he first started working on this album in 2015, “I was trying to arrange for somebody to come into the club and to just record us there, but for a variety of reasons I couldn’t get it to work. I went to a studio where I had previously recorded and I was very comfortable with the place, plus the engineer (Rich Gaglia) is brilliant. I thought it could flow pretty well if we came in and just more or less played live. It was recorded in one and one-half days.  There aren’t a lot of overdubs.  “The Grind,” was done in just one take.

I met Rich when I was still involved with Fountainbleu (Entertainment Inc., the record label) and I recorded a record there called So Many Streams. We played these songs and we didn’t do it piece by piece. There were no overdubs and there were no songs when I decided I would add acoustic guitar or there was a second synth track. There was none of that, but at the same time Rich Gaglia did his tinkering. He’s tremendous.”

The hybrid Funk / Jazz groove continues with “Gumbo Trane,” the second song on the album Every Sunday Night. Cutler’s guitar playing are the only reason you need to purchase this album, as he keeps serving up gems and as the album progresses you think he cannot possibly top this and yet he does. Then you add in Julian Pollack and Nick Semrad who both appear on the organ, as well as drummer McClellan and you have a spectacular trio who keep the listener engaged. “Gumbo Trane,” has good rhythm, rises and falls naturally, never overstaying with intensity and never wallowing in mellow.

“I have played so many genres of music and I know when performing or recording with somebody you don’t want to play Rock on a Jazz album and you do not want to play a Country lick on a Funk album. There are some rules and you want to keep your playing genre specific. (However), I don’t really adhere to that in my writing. I don’t intentionally try to break those rules. It is just what comes out. I don’t like to edit myself, by thinking these are Jazz changes here, but this is more of a groove tune. If to me the two parts flow together then they become one song.

With “Gumbo Trane,” the trane is spelled “trane,” because it is a little nod to Giant Steps and Coltrane. The B to A section of the tune is like a New Orleans kind of groove and that is the gumbo. The trane is the (he mimics the guitar).

I also like to put different soloists in different settings, so on that song there is a guitar solo and a keyboard solo, but the drum solo is in another setting within the song. That’s at the end and we really go towards the Jazz kind of thing. We let Bill solo over that.

Bill is a great player to begin with, so if you have a great sounding drum kit and somebody (Gaglia) who mics the drums beautifully, plus someone who is tweaking them musically that really helps. That is one spot when we really benefitted from being in a recording studio, because that is a lot harder to capture in a live performance in a club. Getting the drums to sound like that in a studio setting really balances all of it out,” he says.

Those guitar grooves were born in Manhattan and raised in the Bronx.

His parents split up when he was nine years old and although his early recollections of his father were as a violinist who enjoyed everything from Classical to Jazz flutist Herbie Mann, Cutler took an interest in the guitar.

“When I became interested in the guitar my cousin just showed up one day and she gave me a guitar. It wasn’t a very good guitar, but I took to it right away. There were a bunch of friends in the building that I grew up in who were getting interested in music at the same time.  We started discovering the Allman Brothers and that live record that they did. There is so much great guitar playing on it,” which provides a nice segue to, “As for the Greg Allman song “Not My Cross to Bear,” on this album, I never worked in that scene, but it is really great Blues tune.  Greg Allman passed away and I guess it comes off a bit as a little tribute to him, but it definitely was not planned that way. I just thought it was a cool tune and maybe a little unnoticed.”

While still in his late teens, Stew Cutler left New York City, which he has since returned to and made it his home.

“I hitchhiked out to California with my girlfriend. I ended up living in San Francisco for a little while. I came back east and I really didn’t want to live in New York.  I had a friend or two in Buffalo and I thought it was a nice place. There was a music scene there,” he says.

For the song “Before I Go,” Cutler collaborated with singer Bobby Harden. Cutler explains, “I had this line and a groove for it and I wanted to do some writing with Bobby Harden. We should be doing more than we are doing, but everybody is so busy. We got together a few times and we just hammered this song out. It came out really well. Bobby wrote the lyrics and being a lyricist is not something that I make a great claim to or anything like that.  A lot of the music that I write is instrumental and when there is a song that has lyrics it tends to be a co-write and generally the other person wrote the lyrics.” 

Cutler turned to the Isaac Hayes and David Porter tune, “When Something is Wrong with My Baby,” to change the pace on Every Sunday Night. The song was originally recorded on the Double Dynamite album for Stax Records in 1967 and charted on the R&B charts at #7.

As for why Stew Cutler decided to record “When Something is Wrong with My Baby,” he says, “We started fooling around with it live and it was not my idea to start doing that song. It was either Nick the keyboard player or Bobby that said let’s play it. We went for it one night. I thought of the idea of Bobby and JT Bowen who are so great and putting the two of them together on this (as a duet). I think it is one of the strongest songs on the recording and they sound amazing together.”

As for his philosophy concerning covering a song, Cutler says, “If you are going to do a cover of something and you are going to go through the pain of recording it then if you don’t have a little bit of your own spin on it, then what is the point? What is the point in doing it if you like the song so much that you want to record it (the same way).

There are certain things that pop up on the radio and I don’t want to diss anybody in an interview, but I have that thought if I hear such and such a person’s cover of say a Motown tune. Why? Is your bass player going to be better? I don’t think so. Is your rhythm section going to be better? I don’t think so. Is your vocal going to be better? I don’t think so. Do something different with the song or leave it alone, because I know when I hear it I will just end up thinking turn this off and put The Four Tops back on or put The Supremes on.”

The song “TV Preacher,” should have you bobbing your head, tapping your feet and moving to the music from the first bar of music. This is a song that invites people to dance to it. It is a cover of a song written by a former bandmate of Cutler’s Kenny Gwyn, who recorded it at Muscle Shoals. The song is a parody of television evangelists. We suppose it depends on which side of that television evangelism spectrum you fall on that will dictate whether or not you warm up to the song, but we liked and we agree with Cutler when he says, “the lyrics are so clever.”

“It tells the story of a crooked television evangelist. This guy is looking for a way to get over and he discovers for himself that he is pretty good at preaching. He gets his whole business scheme together,” he says.

The song “Brookline,” is a mid-tempo Jazzier instrumental tune that once again showcases the amazing musician on this album and in particular Stew Cutler’s playing. He is a generous bandleader giving plenty of space for his fellow musicians, such as organist Julian Pollack to shine (Note: Julian Pollack is the organist for this song and for “Gumbo Trane”). As for the story behind the song, we will leave that for another day, because it is not for the weak of heart.

Please take time to visit the website for Stew Cutler.    Return to Our Front Page

#StewCutler #JulianPollack #BobbyHarden #rivetingriffs #rivetingriffsmagazine

This interview by Joe Montague  published December 4th, 2017 is protected by copyright © and is the property of Riveting Riffs Magazine All Rights Reserved.  All photos are the the property of  Stew Cutler unless otherwise noted and all  are protected by copyright © All Rights Reserved. This interview may not be reproduced in print or on the internet or through any other means without the written permission of Riveting Riffs Magazine, All Rights Reserved

Please use the link to Read this one as I cannot copy and past

 

Stew Cutler And Friends review…July 1, 2017….

STEW CUTLER AND FRIENDS

EVERY SUNDAY NIGHT

COGNA 70070-28026-2

THE GRIND–GUMBO TRANE–BEFORE I GO–NOT MY CROSS TO BEAR–BROOKLINE–TV PREACHER–WHEN SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH MY BABY–MISS D–BLACK CAT BONE (LIVE)

Guitarist Stew Cutler has never been one to limit his music to any particular style or genre’.  That’s one of the reasons his “Every Sunday Night” gigs at Arthur’s Tavern in NYC’s Greenwich Village are so popular.  And, yup, that’s also the title of his latest album.  It was not recorded at Arthur’s, but Stew and his band ventured to Queens to the Psych Studio, and most everything was laid down in one take.

Stew’s guitar takes on many variations throughout these nine cuts, showing why he’s been right at home playing with everyone from Bowie to Arzell Hill to countless others.  This set is almost an equal mix of instrumentals and vocal tracks, and there are highlights aplenty.  Leading off is one of those instrumentals that is really blues-oriented and full of greasy-good slide guitar, Stew’s original, The Grind.”

Along with Stew on guitars, we also have Bill McLellan on drums, Bobby Harden and JT Bowen on vocals,  Nick Semrad and Julian Pollack on keys, and Chulo Gatewood on bass.  Stew shows off some more serious jazz chops with a funky tune that is the aptly-titled “Gumbo Trane,” with fine percussion work from Bill, and keys from Julian.

Three of the vocals stood out for us.  Bobby Harden brings the soul while Stew’s guitar does its share of testifyin’ on a great read of Gregg Allman’s “Not My Cross To Bear.”  A bit later, Bobby plays the part of the perfect con man, asking for “an hour on Channel 35” to be a “TV Preacher,” so that he can get away from “nothin’ in my pockets but poor.”  Perhaps the album’s highlight, tho, is a blistering, soul-satisfying vocal duet between Bobby and JT Bowen, as they take us all down to East McLemore to the Church Of Stax with a sanctified throwdown of “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby.”  Stew’s guitar hits just the right notes at just the right times on this one, too.

Stew Cutler’s vision for this album was to re-create the vibe at Arthur’s Tavern in the studio, and it came out perfectly.  So, if you can’t make it “Every Sunday Night” to Arthur’s, thanks to this set, you can effectively capture the good-time vibe!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Stew Cutler’s ‘artsy bar band’ has Greenwich Village vibe

Stew Cutler

On his album “Every Sunday Night,” Stew Cutler’s prodigious facility on the guitar pairs well with his ability to showcase magnificent players, singers and songs.

You can feel the bohemian panache of New York’s Greenwich Village in guitarist Stew Cutler’s music in the same way Northern California’s aura tints the songs of Robben Ford.

Cutler reminds me of Ford in places on “Every Sunday Night.” He’s played alongside Percy Sledge, David Sanborn, Robin Holcomb, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and even Meat Loaf through the years, so he’s able to draw upon a unique variety of likes and interests, besides the grit of his New York City home. The title of this, Cutler’s sixth album, is derived from his weekly residency at Arthur’s Tavern, the West Side’s historic “Home of the Bird’” jazz club. On it, Cutler and his superb band focus on jazz, soul, funk and the blues, and they mix it up with distinctive flair, subtlety and, of course, plenty of heat.

Every Sunday Night, Stew CutlerCutler refers to his collective as “An artsy bar band,” which is an apt description. They’re precise, yet down and dirty. The idea was to play a set as if they were at a rousing Arthur’s show. So, they cut nine songs in a single day’s session, wildly achieving their goal in the process. From the spacey opening to “The Grind,” which moves along purposefully and with dangerous guitar snaking about, to the lightly jiving “Miss D” at the end, top-notch entertainment never wavers. Cutler’s high-pitched tone calls to mind Tommy Bolin during “The Grind,” the title coincidentally used by the late, great and sadly misguided guitarist for one of his own rockers. Bolin did play on the celebrated “Spectrum” album by Billy Cobham, so the influence may have originated there.

“Gumbo Trane” goes just where its title suggests; six and a half minutes of free bebop with undertones of the Crescent City. Organist Nick Semrad shines in his extended solo there, and the backbeat provided by drummer Bill McClellan cannot be beat. Cutler’s cutting of a completely soulful version of Gregg Allman’s “It’s Not My Cross to Bear” is reverential, and its timing coincidental, given Allman’s passing sometime after this session was completed. Singer Bobby Harden steps up on the song, swings for the fences, and blasts it out of the park. No easy task, which explains why Allman is so rarely covered. JT Bowen of Asbury Park, New Jersey’s Red Bank Rockers takes the microphone for Sam and Dave’s “When Something is Wrong with My Baby,” and does a fantastic job singing that perennial favorite.

Cutler’s prodigious facility on the guitar pairs well with his ability to showcase magnificent players, singers and songs here. The results amount to an out-of-left-field album not to be missed.

-Tom Clarke

  • Stew Cutler
    ‘Every Sunday Night’
    Label: Conga

Stew Cutler and Friends – Every Sunday Night | Album Review

Stew Cutler and Friends – Every Sunday Night

Cogna, NYC and the Michael J. Media Group

www.stewcutler.com

CD: 9 Songs, 43:28 Minutes

Styles: Eclectic Electric Blues, Electric Blues Rock, Instrumental Blues

“Eclectic” is one of those adjectives that makes some people go “Yay!” and others go “Uh-oh…” whenever it refers to a blues artist. Those who construe it as a synonym for “hodgepodge” may find NYC’s Stew Cutler and Friends’ music too unstructured for their taste. Where are the eight-bar, twelve-bar, and lump-de-lump rhythms? Where are the repeated couplets and refrains? Few and far between on his latest CD. Yet, for those who consider “eclectic” a compliment, Every Sunday Night will be a refreshing reprieve from the same-old, same-old. It has the right amount of weird, the right amount of woe, and the right amount of wonderful for it to be one of this reviewer’s top ten blues picks of 2017. Whether one’s preferred style of blues is roadhouse or nightclub, the nine featured songs (four originals and five covers) run the full gamut of energy and pizzazz. Those unfamiliar with Stew Cutler might be a bit skeptical of how this album got so many kudos from Ms. Rainey Wetnight, but get this. They’re from New York City. If you’re going to make it in the Big Apple, you’ve got to be more than good.

Their promotional information sheet reveals the inspiration behind this CD’s name. “‘I wanted to do a live recording in the place we play every Sunday – Arthur’s Tavern in NY’s Greenwich Village,’ [Cutler] explains. ‘However, since it became clear that it was going to be impossible to do it that way, I brought the band out to Queens and we basically played live. The overdubs and edits were kept to a minimum.’” Sometimes on live albums, their lack of polish is clear, but not here. Each track on this CD is as clean and invigorating as a late-summer rain.

The “Friends” alongside lead/slide guitarist and background vocalist Stew Cutler are Bill McClellan on drums and background vocals; Bobby Harden on vocals; Nick Semrad on organ; Julian Pollack on organ for “Brookline” and “Gumbo Trane”, Chulo Gatewood on bass, and JT Bowen on lead and background vocals.

The following three tracks are not only out of the ordinary, but ready for national airplay as well.

Track 01: “The Grind” – Here we get a taste of the “weird” part of “eclectic,” and it’s a blast. Move over, Jimi Hendrix. Stew’s got his own psychedelic intro to top yours and then some. Running over seven minutes, this song is perfect for zoning out while consuming one’s favorite adult beverage and/or recreational substance(s). I myself can imagine it being played in a bar in the movies, one of those sketchy places that has a clock with a neon-red rim. It’s groovy and gritty all at once, never grating.

Track 05: “Brookline” – Dig this smooth jazz/blues instrumental’s atmosphere. Julian Pollack’s organ adds an old-timey vibe to the mellow guitar stylings in the forefront. Stevie Ray Vaughan would also be proud if he heard this song, a “Riviera Paradise” for the NYC crowd.

Track 07: “When Something is Wrong with my Baby” – Okay, this is a cover, and you-know-who doesn’t review covers on principle. Confession: Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville’s version of the song made her cry, and this one comes the closest to bringing back those tears. “And if I know she’s worried,” JT Bowen croons, “then I would feel that same misery.” Truer words were never spoken – or, in this case, sung with masterful aplomb ‘right in the feels’.

Stew Cutler and Friends play Every Sunday Night, and they still want to – in your CD player!

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CATEGORIESALBUM REVIEWSTAGS

guitarist Stew Cutler's sixth album Every Sunday Night is a long-steeped brew of soul, jazz, and blues-rock including several tracks with vocals by local soul man Bobby Harden. Harden's presence is likely to make any recording worth a listen (or any gig worth the cover charge). But the opening track, "The Grind," is one of several instrumental originals on the album, and it sets a powerful smoky tone all its own, thanks partly to smooth organ playing from its co-writer Nick Semrad.

Drummer Bill McClellan charges the otherwise jazzy and easygoing original "Gumbo Trane" with a gentle funk-rock fizz, but the track's main appeal lies in Cutler's inspired soloing. Julian Pollack lays down a tasty stuttering organ solo, and contributes to a fun rhythm rave-up in this Trane's caboose.

 

Harden joins the band first on the dark, prickly "Before I Go," a blues number that sounds a bit as if Otis Redding had joined forces with Son Seals. Harden then channels the roots of gospel in the Allman Brothers' "Not My Cross to Bear," which centers on an otherworldly solo from Cutler. The guitarist is equally inspired on the instrumental original "Brookline" with its straightforward melody and occasional tongue-in-cheek rhythmic surprise. Among its other virtues, this album is a lot of fun, no doubt in part because it was recorded almost-live.

There isn't much to the gospel-rooted blues-rock of "TV Preacher," and the band's super-slow take on the Sam and Dave classic "When Something is Wrong with My Baby" feels at first like it might be running on empty. But once the voices of Harden and guest JT Bowen join in harmony the track takes flight. Bowen takes a verse, Cutler contributes a deliciously languid solo, and the two singers' differing styles - Harden sweet and impassioned, Bowen rough and raw - turn the soul nugget into a new animal, almost painfully laden with emotional depth.

The concise album closes with a charming '60s-style instrumental with a light Dave Brubeck-type touch - though like everything Cutler and his band take up here, it evolves into a masterwork of rhythm and improvisation - followed by a smoking guitar-solo excerpt from an actual live performance, presumably one of the band's sets at Arthur's Tavern. The latter isn't necessary; the album tracks are more than enough of a treat to make you want to catch Stew Cutler & Friends in action. Meantime, pick up Every Sunday Night for the good vibes, good times, and musicianship that's fluid and sharp, expert and humane. It will be available beginning September 15.

 

Stew Cutler’s name may not ring a bell, but this is a guitar player who has been around the proverbial block many times. Equally at home in r&b, blues and jazz, he has accompanied the likes of Percy Sledge, Wilson Pickett, Fontella Bass and Earl King. One of his first jobs as a sideman was with ZZ Hill. He toured Europe with Queen Esther Marrow and the Harlem Gospel Singers and has worked with David Sanborn, Lester Bowie, Charlie Hunter, Bill Frisell and Jimmy Dale Gilmore. It doesn’t get any more diversified than that. As the title suggests he now has a regular gig at Arthur’s Tavern, nestled in New York’s Greenwich Village.

The friends along for the ride are Bobby Harden on vocals, JT Bowen on vocals on one song, Bill McClelland on drums, Nick Semrad on organ, Jullian Pollack on organ on a pair of songs, and Chulo Gatewood on bass. The music captured here is live in the studio, as the tavern was not available for the recording. Regardless, it’s the music that matters and the music here is a sampler of Cutler’s many musical hats. Opening with the original, “The Grind,” the guitarist reminds of Roy Buchanan. His mastery of the instrument is showcased here with forays into the upper stratosphere of the fretboard. On the follow up, “Gumbo Trane,” also an original, he quotes lines that vaguely call Coltrane to mind couched in New Orleans funk. The funk wins out over the Trane.

“Before I Go” features powerful vocalist Bobby Harden, who is even more effective on their version of the Allman Brothers classic “Not My Cross To Bear.” A strong vocalist, he captures the essence of Gregg Allman’s original, with Cutler approximating the Duane Allman guitar parts with his own unique spin. Semran’s organ and McClelland’s drumming stand out, as well. Harden sits out for the take on Sam & Dave’s “When Something Is Wrong With My Baby, on which JT Bowen more than aptly takes the lead vocal. The organ is prominent here and Cutler’s solo is breathtaking. Following a spirited lampoon of the “TV Preacher”, comes the sizzling intrumental, “Miss D,” on which everyone shines. The closer, Hop Wilson’s “Black Cat Moan,” is not much more than a one minute soundbyte that showcases Cutler cutting loose.

This is apparently Stew Cutler’s sixth album as a leader. His name is new to this writer and this writer has just become a serious fan.

 

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stew cutlerNew York City guitarist Stew Cutler‘s sixth album Every Sunday Night is a long-steeped brew of soul, jazz, and blues-rock including several tracks with vocals by local soul man Bobby Harden. Harden’s presence is likely to make any recording worth a listen (or any gig worth the cover charge). But the opening track, “The Grind,” is one of several instrumental originals on the album, and it sets a powerful smoky tone all its own, thanks partly to smooth organ playing from its co-writer Nick Semrad.

Drummer Bill McClellan charges the otherwise jazzy and easygoing original “Gumbo Trane” with a gentle funk-rock fizz, but the track’s main appeal lies in Cutler’s inspired soloing. Julian Pollack lays down a tasty stuttering organ solo, and contributes to a fun rhythm rave-up in this Trane’s caboose.

Harden joins the band first on the dark, prickly “Before I Go,” a blues number that sounds a bit as if Otis Redding had joined forces with Son Seals. Harden then channels the roots of gospel in the Allman Brothers’ “Not My Cross to Bear,” which centers on an otherworldly solo from Cutler. The guitarist is equally inspired on the instrumental original “Brookline” with its straightforward melody and occasional tongue-in-cheek rhythmic surprise. Among its other virtues, this album is a lot of fun, no doubt in part because it was recorded almost-live.

There isn’t much to the gospel-rooted blues-rock of “TV Preacher,” and the band’s super-slow take on the Sam and Dave classic “When Something is Wrong with My Baby” feels at first like it might be running on empty. But once the voices of Harden and guest JT Bowen join in harmony the track takes flight. Bowen takes a verse, Cutler contributes a deliciously languid solo, and the two singers’ differing styles – Harden sweet and impassioned, Bowen rough and raw – turn the soul nugget into a new animal, almost painfully laden with emotional depth.

The concise album closes with a charming ’60s-style instrumental with a light Dave Brubeck-type touch – though like everything Cutler and his band take up here, it evolves into a masterwork of rhythm and improvisation – followed by a smoking guitar-solo excerpt from an actual live performance, presumably one of the band’s sets at Arthur’s Tavern. The latter isn’t necessary; the album tracks are more than enough of a treat to make you want to catch Stew Cutler & Friends in action. Meantime, pick up Every Sunday Night for the good vibes, good times, and musicianship that’s fluid and sharp, expert and humane. It will be available beginning September 15.

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"Cutler’s latest release, After Hours, perfectly navigates that land between jazz and blues that puts it firmly in both camps."

- John Heidt

STEW CUTLER TRIO - Insignia (Naim 058) I feel proud to have helped bring this superb cd to light - by introducing the wonderful jazz/blues guitarist Stew Cutler to a doctor friend of mine (Alan Eiges) to play a party, he in turn told a producer friend of his (Ken Christianson) about Stew's fine trio and was instrumental in getting the trio to record for the much respected UK label - Naim. Stew's superb trio includes Booker King on bass and Garry Bruer on drums. Ken recorded this marvelous trio in a church in Hinsdale, IL. and the sound is just perfect. Commencing with the beautiful, laid back elegance of "Whisper" - Stew has a superb, warm tone not too different from the lovely sound that Bill Frisell uses in recent years. The first solo is actually a swell one from bassist Booker King - Stew's solo is next and it is the essense of taste, balancing jazz and blues lines with a purity that shines. "QT" also shifts between a funky, blues section (Zony Mash-like) and a complex, spiraling section with intricate changes. I dig how the bass sets the tone on "Lovely Mary" another exquisite, bluesy, laid back gem which starts with a dream sequence and then turns into a Latin groove thing. On "Left Behind" Stew starts with some nice volume swirls, but soon the drummer is spinning quickly while Stew adds some hypnotic sustain-tone to his guitar and the trio takes off for the stratosphere as the pace gets quicker and Booker plays another inspired electric bass solo. Stew digs in and lets the blues wail with a slow burn groove on "East River Delta" with some subtle yet greasy slide and some finger twisting grit. Another great thing about this release is the way Stew's tunes are filled with nifty surprises - they often start one way, yet change midstream and become something else, but it all evolves so naturally. "Saudades on 8th Ave." has a great finger snapping latin groove and more tasty solos from the guitar and bass. "Elizabeth" has an enchanting, laid back and funky groove which shifts between the slow grease and swinging jazz vibe with a long, story-like solo from Stew right out of Wes Montgomery-land. Stew takes things further out on "Left Alone" where he uses some spaced out echoes on the guitar for the intro and then glides with bluesy echoed slide for the rest of the tune - the song does have a lonely feel, so the title is pretty apt. The title track "Insignia" is the longest one here and begins with a blues-drenched stop and start rhythm and builds from hushed waves and warm, gracious jazz guitar slowly letting those notes get fatter as his tone gets thicker - the drummer and bassist both take fine melodic solos which continues the flow just right - Stew also takes another fine, ultra subtle guitar solo with delicate volume pedal or pinky action that has an endearing dream-like haze. If any of you have been disappointed in the last few Bill Frisell cds for being too mellow, I urge you to give the Stew Cutler Trio a chance - an immensely sublime and superb jazz/blues guitar trio treat! $15.

Guitarist Stew Cutler gets all of his stuff out in one live recording. Trio/Live is betwixt and between jazz and avant-garde, blues and soul, rhythm & blues. Along with drummer Garry Bruer and bassist Gene Torress, the trio consumes ten compositions and throws them back as a pile of smoldering ash.

The trio begins this 2004 session, recorded at different spaces in Pennsylvania and New York, with “Left Behind.” Cutler sends a thin, whiny line that elasticizes through the air. It’s a warm-up and a shake- up as Bruer furiously beats time and Cutlter deftly picks at notes. The thuddy bass notes of Torres gallops up to his tinny, buzzy solo in the slowed-down section at the end.

“Mourning Dance” plays out the kind of wrung-out and dispirited feelings one gets but is too tired to rise up and do anything about. There is no resolution in sight for this type of blues! The time is free and dangles where Cutler’s fingers wag. “Mourning Dance” is one big cadenza, and that is challenging in that each man is relying on his ears, eyes and gut to communicate these emotions.

Cutler hits the ruddy earth with “East River Delta”. It’s thick with changing speeds and times and swirls with eastern inflections. This piece exemplifies Cutler’s brand of “avant-blues”, employing irregular shifts in tempo and atmosphere. “Ardells Theme” gets funky and Cutlter leaves no lick unturned. Is that a putdown? Absolutely not. It’sa treat to listen to an artist tipping his hat to his influences and, in Cutler’s case, to his employers and bandmates – like vocalist Arziel “Z.Z.” Hill and guitarists Wilson Pickett, Eliot Sharp and Jimmy Dale Gilmore.

“Cole’s Mountain” sounds like a contemporary blues-rock anthem that speaks to a generation trapped by the manufactured angst of today’s Adult Contemporary and Rock groups and their longing for radio staples by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble. Cutler slides in with a six-note riff that is the skeleton of the piece. By the fourth and seventh measure, Bruer and Torres have jammed their feet in the door. All three play it close to each bar and never slip out of the slick groove they’ve created.

Cutler brings about some Southern hospitality and twang on “Yippie- tai-yi-yo”. Performed comfortably in 3⁄4 time, Cutler coos as Torres shuffles his brushes like a pair of well-worn boots along a dirt wood- board floor. Both Cutler and Bruer take liberties with the tempo as they ease each time into the tonic (the C chord) from the V7 (the G7 chord). This gives “Yippie-tai-yi-yo” authentic charm. Cutler cuts out with “Cut ‘n’ The Dove”, a free solo work that partially relies on electronic effects to create stillness and a bit of introspection.

Folks like Cutler are fortunate to partner with record labels that nurture artistic growth, musical integrity and are willing to shout from the rooftops their dedication and faith to the music. Cutler’s with New York-based Fountainbleu, a label that 1) shares his passion for roots music and 2) is in close proximity to him (he lives in New York.) Trio/Live is a slim but satiable guide through parts of Americana and one looks forward to more extended works from the trio. When one puts their finger firmly down on one destination on a map, they, in actuality, will go nowhere. Cutler travels freely around the musical globe and seems to find his way around with no problems.

 This is an interesting recording encompassing a wide range of styles, and reflects the background of guitarist Stew Cutler - who started out as a young player working with blues great ZZ Hill, and has since worked with an eclectic group of artists like Bill Frisell, Wilson Pickett, David Sanborn, Harvey Brooks, Lester Bowie, Matt "Guitar" Murphy, Bobby Previte, Percy Sledge, Eliot Sharp and Jimmy Dale Gilmore. Recorded live with drummer Garry Bruer and bassist Gene Torres (who also engineered), this recording moves from blues to avant garde to rock fusion and world music in compelling fashion.

Cutler doesn't rely on effects as much as many of his peers and his energtic riffing at times recalls McLaughlin and Scofield. The opener "Left Behind" even calls up a bit of the spirit of Jimi on it's enjoyable ride. "Mourning Dance" slows it down a bit after the adventurous opener and the beginning shows Cutler to be equally adept at playing a down home blues that wouldn't seem out place on a David Bromburg album before the piece mutates a bit into a Frisell-like atmosphere. This is some quirky stuff - as the next number "Spaghetti Western" reminds us: here the blues and free form collide. Bruer provides solid drumming and Torres shows a deft touch on the lower register as well.

"East River Delta" starts out like an Allman Brothers tune with some hot slide playing then mutates into an Indian raga complete with Cutler's guitar morphing into a sitar. "Ardells Theme" features Torres' on some spicy bass licks, and is more a funky rocker, while "Whisper" is a quiet and delightful light piece that lives up to its name quite well. The wonderful "Cole's Mountain" may be my favorite - a folksy number in the Frisell vein, with a strong theme that canters between the melancholic and the melodic. Some real fine playing on this tune. "Yppie-Tai-Yi-Yo" follows and is a pleasnt lark, while the lengthy "Burma/Change of Heart" has some good moments, but not enough to support 14:36, and the album closer "Cut 'n' the Dove" is moody and mysterious and has its charms, but somewhat leaves you hanging, wanting more of the firepower Cutler displays earlier. As an intriguing mix of blues, jazz, rock and the kitchen sink displaying some seductively off-center guitar playing Stew Cutler's "Trio Live" should appeal to listeners who enjoy such outings.


Riveting Riffs review by Joe Montague;

http://www.rivetingriffs.com/After%20Hours%20Stew%20Cutler.html