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Rick Cutler: Press

Mike Garson - Keyboardist For David Bowie
Honest and heartfelt...reflective, spiritual all the harmony...reminded me of a good read of short stories right up to the end...what's next??!!
Mark Soskin - Pianist For Sonny Rollins, Billy Cobham & Gato Barbieri (May 13, 2006)
This is absolutely beautiful stuff! Very inspiring. It reminded me of the way I felt when, as a kid, I heard the Keith Jarrett Koln Concerts.
Sim Cain - Drummer For Rollins Band & J. Geils (Oct 22, 2008)
This album is not due in stores until January 4, but I am going to sing its praises here in October. Surely, we can all agree that one of jazz’s greatest strengths is its versatility, the fact that an almost infinite number of subgenres can fit under the name. Cutler’s work on this, his second solo piano recording, runs more to the atmospheric jazz of the ECM label; it even touches on vintage Windham Hill new age. The results border on the hypnotic, with Cutler weaving soundscapes that by turns soothe, enthrall and always intrigue; the middle-of-the-night reflection of the title foreshadows much of the music contained therein. That impression is deepened through such tracks as “Isle of Words Forgotten,” “Charlotte’s Roads Before Her,” “Measuring Eternity,” “Indian Sunset” and “A Song You’ve Heard Before.” Don’t miss this dreamy yet dynamic album.
Brian McCoy - Oakland Jazz Music Examiner
f you are a fan of the piano, especially jazz piano with occasional classical touches, you will enjoy First Melancholy, Then The Night Stretch (New Dude) by musician Rick Cutler. The entire 18-song album is solo, so the listener gets a chance to hear each song executed beautifully from start to finish without interruption or interference. To be able to hear a musician play like this, adding subtle touches to his audio painting the way he does, is great. While I am not a pianist, I have always admired the sound of the piano and the way it’s played, and hearing this makes me wish I could play the instrument more than “by ear”, so to imagine his (or any musician’s) approach in songs like “Who Needs Words”, “Charlotte’s Roads Before Her”, or “Thank You (For McCoy Tyner)” is part of the listening experience.
While he is a musician that plays jazz, this isn’t just a jazz album, and I think most pianists will go into this album knowing and accepting this, since it’s about the power of the musician and the instrument chosen, not the style of music (s)he performs. It’s a stand-out album, and definitely worth picking up. With 18 songs (all Cutler originals), there’s enough to feast on for a long time.
This Is Book's Music
Pay attention. Here's a drummer that's also a piano man that's played with everyone as well as having written the theme for "Dateline" and the Yankees for MSG Network. You know this guy's work even if you don't know him. This solo piano set sounds like a trip into Bill Evans mind after hours when he doesn't think anyone is listening. Sounding like an American ECM release, Cutler knows his stuff and how to get what he wants making this a sure bet for solo piano fans who know this is what they want. Well done.
Chris Spector - Midwest Record
Although First Melancholy, Then the Night Stretch is Rick Cutler’s second solo piano release, he may be best known as a percussionist/drummer, theme composer and sideman: he has worked with Liza Minnelli, Gregory Hines and written for television, film and on Broadway.

However, as evidenced by this and other recordings, Cutler is a flexible artist. This 62-minute collection draws on influences such as Chick Corea – whom Cutler studied with – Keith Jarrett, Debussy and even fellow drummer Tony Williams.

For the most part Cutler’s original material – he wrote all 18 tracks presented here – moves slowly in a late evening blue-mood that has a rural, pastoral and nocturnal disposition. “Charlotte’s Roads Before Her,” for example, has a folkish demeanor that evokes Aaron Copland’s Americana as well as George Winston’s landscape-oriented characteristics. This and many other pieces are evocative of other artists who have made significant impacts on Cutler’s composing and performing style.

“Debussy” is of course dedicated to Claude Debussy, whose ideas on symbolism are a notable inspiration: this five-minute cut shares Debussy’s reflective and sensory work and his use of single or simple keys or pitches. A much briefer but similarly-shaded creation, “Noise (For Tony Williams),” honors the iconic drummer who was one of Cutler’s early musical heroes. Praise is also given to jazz violinist Noel Pointer during “Song for Noel,” a methodically poignant piece that blends optimism with loss. “Thank You (For McCoy Tyner)” is yet another commendation to a musical idol, where Cutler does not replicate Tyner’s tone or sensibility but rather offers an impressionistic sensitivity that alludes to Tyner’s literate personality.

The darkest compositions form a three-part “Alien Landscape” suite that merges Cutler’s suggestive, minor-key improvisations with echoing wind. Each shortened section is spread amongst the other tunes: Cutler unassumingly rephrases the same brooding theme on each component, which provides both a positive thematic connection but also a negative indication of repetition.

“Dance” is the most rhythmically involved performance and seems the closest in spirit to Jarrett’s modern creative muse, although definitely not nearly as breathtaking and ambitious. On “A Song You’ve Heard Before” Cutler mirrors the melodic sketches Corea recorded on his early seventies piano improvisation releases.
Doug Simpson - Audiophile Audition
Rick’s talent on this second CD is beyond categories… cleanly sculpted notes all the way through, firm keyboard touch and dedication to the mood being created make this a very enjoyable (& new) sonic adventure. For those who love piano...most highly recommended!! 4.97 out of 5 stars!!
Zzaj Productions
Rick is truly unique and this is one solid album. Hope he gets wider recognition.
Dan Bayer - WKAR-East Lansing, MI
From the evidence of his second CD First Melancholy, Then the Night Stretch, Rick Cutler is a pianist with a lyrical thrust, a soloist that draws upon and extends the work of Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea in that vein, with graceful ostinatos accompanying movingly expressive right hand melodizing, use of space and a quasi-classical solo style that is punctuated with exotic harmonies and reflective reveries.

He is different enough that what is happening does not smack of plagiarism. It's Rick Cutler music. I'll be glad to file it over with Jarrett and Corea and Steve Kuhn, and will no doubt play it often.

It's very nice to hear and a credit to Mr. Cutler's talent. Give it a spin!
Greg Edwards - Gapplegate Music Review
I love it totally. One of the better piano albums to come my way in ages.
WDVR/The Sound Alternative-Sergeantsville, NJ
Great album!!
What a great, refreshing CD !
Rich Olsen - WTUL-New Orleans, LA
Truly a testament to Cutler as a purist, or musician's musician if you will; bypassing the trap of labels and genres and instead just playing good music.
Jonathan Cohen - KAMP-Tucson, AZ
This CD has the consistency of a romantic whisper....Escapes the cliches...He knows that the lyricism of a few notes, suspended between pauses and silences, is priceless...His is a discreet romance and elegant passion...4 Stars!
Michele Chisena - All About Jazz Italia
It is a stellar CD worth perusing.
Sandi Porter - The World's #1 Music Forum
First Melancholy, Then The Night Stretch is the second solo album from pianist/drummer/composer Rick Cutler. Cutler is an extremely versatile musician with a vast and diverse background that includes classical studies at Juilliard; studies with Chick Corea; touring with a variety of artists that include the late Gregory Hines, Gloria Gaynor, and Liza Minelli (currently); performances in Broadway productions of Hair and The Wiz; and composing for television. Cutler’s list of accomplishments and references could go on for pages, so I mention only a few to give you an idea of how versatile he is. With such a rich history, it is no wonder that his original music goes in so many directions. Despite the diversity of the eighteen piano solos, this album holds together seamlessly and never ceases to amaze. The piano sound is flawless - clear without being brittle or too bright, warm, and a rewarding listening experience for many, many returns.

First Melancholy, Then The Night Stretch begins with “Isle of Words Forgotten,” an elegant and somewhat mysterious reflection that flows smoothly and effortlessly without revealing too much. “Gentle Nightmares” suggests a dichotomy, with the left hand presenting a gentle rhythm that propels the piece while the right hand is more “angular” and edgy - one of my favorites. “Charlotte’s Roads Before Her” has a slow, lyrical melody and rubato tempo that suggests tentatively moving forward, making choices and overcoming fears. Each section of the “Alien Landscape” trilogy appears in a different part of the album, with piano accompanied by the sound of bitter wind, evoking images of desolation and foreboding - very effective! “Debussy” captures the sparkle and experimental nature of that composers’ music as well as that of the Impressionist painters of Debussy’s time. “Measuring Eternity” contains elements of improvisation as well as structured composition; melodic yet fluid and changing. “Noise (For Tony Williams)” is edgy and free. “Indian Sunset” is another favorite. Inspired by the beauty of one of nature’s most spectacular displays, the piece expresses a mix of emotions that range from serene contentment to melancholy longing while remaining free to wander and evolve as it wills. “A Dance” suggests expressive free-form movement and grace - love it! “Hymn” is not your traditional four-part harmony Sunday morning song, but a prayer that comes from the depths of the soul - stirring and sincere. “Who Needs Words” clearly and gracefully demonstrates a range of emotions and musical thoughts that need no verbal clarification. “Going Home” closes the album with an uplifting gospel tune that expresses joy and inner peace. Amen!

First Melancholy, Then The Night Stretch has introduced me to a new favorite artist in Rick Cutler. Highly recommended!
Kathy Parsons -
Rick Cutler’s latest collection of piano instrumentals is a moody and evocative affair worthy of the album’s equally atmospheric title and cover.

The 18 tracks contained on the CD are very cinematic in feel, which should come as no surprise since Cutler writes and performs music for film and television. He also served as Gregory Hines’s keyboardist and musical director for 18 years and currently tours as Liza Minnelli’s drummer, and has also worked with scores of other notable artists in between, giving Cutler an edge as a brilliant composer and a seasoned musician.

Cutler is a crafty tunesmith, always drawing you in with captivating hooks, sometimes giving you what you anticipate, and other times taking you in unexpected directions, yet leaving you musically satisfied. The compositions, which include tips of the hat to such classical and jazz influences as Debussy and McCoy Tyner, are subtle and understated and function as a sort of tonic for the psyche.

Interspersed throughout the album are three “Alien Landscapes” that exemplify Cutler’s simultaneously adventurous and eerie sensibilities. With the CD as a whole, Cutler has definitely cultivated an artistically and intellectually stimulating sonic landscape for inner reflection and deep reverie.
Raj Manoharan - Raj's Blogspot
Rick Cutler’s second album is called FIRST MELANCHOLY, THEN THE NIGHT STRETCH. This solo piano music sounds a bit different than most others because Rick brings forth all of his varied influences. One tune may be soft and reflective in the best new age tradition, but the next might subtly show his jazz influences (Cutler studied with Chick Corea, toured for years with jazz violinist Noel Pointer and had a jazz-fusion band called Exit). In addition, Cutler studied classical music at the prestigious Juilliard School of Music and played in the stage bands for many Broadway musicals, so you hear bits and pieces of those influences too. This is a sophisticated, yet warm and intimate, piano recording. Some of the pieces are slow and soft, while others are extremely rhythmic, pounding, pulsating and upbeat. And some, like the three titled “Alien Landscape 1, 2 & 3,” are a little strange, as you might expect from the title. Several others are tributes to jazz greats, but are less structured than if this was an ensemble recording. Cutler obviously has a lot of talent and he keeps it interesting throughout.
Superbly performed and emotionally moving, First Melancholy, Then the Night Stretch explores echoes of memory, reflections on the grandeur of nature, and contemplation of dreams just out of the conscious mind's reach. An extraordinary and beautiful work, highly recommended.
Midwest Book
Rick Cutler is one of those solo pianists who constructs interesting melodies, but then leaves room for improvisation when he goes into the studio to make the recording. This gives his CD the best of both worlds -- structure as well as the excitement of the moment, a melody along with extemporaneous freedom all of which makes this a fascinating new piano recording worth checking out.
Top 40
Mr. Cutler is an extremely fine musician and composer, and the music doesn't really sound like anyone else's. There is a stark beauty to it.
In one of the coolest titled CDs I've yet come across, Rick Cutler has created First Melancholy, then the Night Stretch pretty much, just from the title, in exactly the way you'd suspect…but with more than a few differences. He cuts across many pianistic paths in this set of recitals of his own songs and inventions. Melancholy is Cutler and just Cutler, solo, undubbed, quite often almost chamber-ish. Starting pensively in thoughtful narratives difficult to place in time, the CD ruminates inside a little church just down the lane (Isle of Words Forgotten), which becomes an abandoned alley ghosted with lively memories (Gentle Nightmares) letting into reminiscences of sundry events and interludes (Debussy being precisely what you'd expect, a kind of a Prelude au Claire de Reverie a Mer) before waxing modernique in the serial From Then Till Now, a Glassian exercise inflowing an angularization of Gershwin meeting Bob James, Keith Jarrett pushing the lads into traffic lanes.
Cutler expended a lot of time on this CD, not in its execution but in the crafting of the songs comprising it. Each stanza shows a subtle wealth of long-considered lines, passages crafted endlessly until not a note remained that wasn't perfectly placed. I can see no way in which this was a set of extemporaneous compositions, the brainwork is too extensive, and the result is a display that at first seems to invite comparisons to Benoit, Guaraldi, Brubeck, and others but which rapidly reveals a classical background highly inflected by the heavier jazz ivory ticklers from Peterson to Jarrett (Song for Noel fuses all of this). Expect to discover a part of your own aesthetic that you hadn't known existed.
Mark S. Tucker - Acoustic
If after reading this you go and listen to Rick Cutler's "First Melancholy, Then The Night Stretch", pay special attention to the rhythm patterns he sets up in many of the tunes. Those rhythms are outside the realm of most pianists but they come naturally to Rick. In fact, his rhythmic qualities (timing and percussive attack) are what make this an extraordinary new piano recording worth paying attention to. Of course he mostly does it with his left hand but also occasionally with his right, or with both simultaneously. He often sets up the rhythm strongly before jumping off into improvisation which varies between rhythmic and melodic. A couple of highlights are “Charlotte’s Roads Before Her” and the classical-tip-of-the-hat “Debussy.” Check Cutler out.
Elizabeth B. - 8
Rick Cutler presents what might be considered “softer new age’ but also “exploratory jazz.” Not unlike folk musicians or any other writers for that matter, Cutler’s roots are in his faith and beliefs. In this case Rick adds a quote to the CD cover from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. My first impression is that these compositions are unique and to me they are very moving. Some piano composers have tracks, however good they are, which do not tell me we have moved onto a new thought, mood, or concept. With Cutler’s songs the transitions are clear, yet not unwelcome. It’s like rounding the bend and getting a view of some hidden mountain. ‘Gentle Nightmare’ lacks any of the frightfulness I would expect from the title. Cutler stays close to an inviting melody line played mostly on higher keys. I do not want this dream to end. But then ‘Charlotte’s Roads Before Her’ begins on a warm low tone. The compositions are good but Rick Cutler has assembled a collage with clear variety. ‘Alien Landscape’ incorporates the sound of extraterrestrial wind. There are three such pieces on the CD. A Julliard percussion major, Cutler is also devoted and experienced in Jazz Fusion, Miles Davis and a “…long list of traditional classical composers.” ‘Debussy’ is a tribute. ‘From Then Till Now’ is dark, slightly frantic, wandering the lower keys until the mystery expands to the upper reaches giving us two perspectives at once. The lower notes continue as disturbing boogie-woogie and the higher melody stretches us until resolving together at the end. ‘Measuring Eternity’ reminds me at times of Mingus, whose solo piano LP ‘Myself When I Am Real’ still haunts me. ‘Noise’ is anything but noise; a thoughtful meditation perhaps a treatise about noise. This composition pauses at times to position chords, letting them stand alone like placing them randomly on a map. Cutler’s playing and this recording are crisp. ‘Indian Sunset’ makes me feel like I’ve wandered into an undiscovered piano bar with a pianist who, oblivious to audience, plays timeless favorites-his way and from his depths. More than any solo piano I have reviewed, Cutler’s sense of rhythm and piano voice is as close to having lyrics as any I have heard. ‘Hymn’ brings something familiar with it-a sense that you are drawn in, ready to sing. The CD has a generous eighteen tracks each with finely crafted structure. ‘Who Needs Words’ treads on discord, resolves to simple melody and back. ‘Going Home’ is my favorite and powerful. This is the best solo piano collection I have heard.
J.W. McClure - Victory Review Magazine
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