Rick Cutler | First Melancholy, Then the Night Stretch

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Jazz: Piano Jazz New Age: Solo Instrumental Moods: Solo Instrumental
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First Melancholy, Then the Night Stretch

by Rick Cutler

The sophomore solo piano album from multitalented multi-instrumentalist Rick Cutler, is a marvelous second effort that delivers upon the promise of his debut disc, Sanctuaries. It includes 18 new pieces spanning a wide range of styles.
Genre: Jazz: Piano Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Isle of Words Forgotten
2:43 $0.99
2. Gentle Nightmares
3:00 $0.99
3. Charlotte's Roads Before Her
4:26 $0.99
4. Alien Landscape 1
1:56 $0.99
5. Debussy
5:06 $0.99
6. From Then Till Now
4:40 $0.99
7. Measuring Eternity
2:38 $0.99
8. Noise
2:38 $0.99
9. Alien Landscape 2
1:46 $0.99
10. Song For Noel
3:50 $0.99
11. Indian Sunset
3:45 $0.99
12. A Dance
4:35 $0.99
13. Hymn
3:13 $0.99
14. Thank You
3:53 $0.99
15. Alien Landscape 3
2:43 $0.99
16. Who Needs Words
3:25 $0.99
17. A Song You've Heard Before
4:02 $0.99
18. Going Home
4:15 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Rick has been playing drums since the age of 5 1/2 & keyboards since his teens. He studied both at the Julliard School as well as with jazz great Chick Corea.
He has performed in many Broadway shows including "Hair", "The Wiz", "Candide", "They're Playing Our Song", "Woman of the Year" & "Seesaw".
He has written much music for TV, Film & Radio. Some of his work in this field include the Emmy-nominated theme for "Dateline NBC", "Later Today" on NBC, the theme for the New York Yankees on MSG Cable & the "Outlaws & Lawmen" mini-series on the Discovery channel.
For 18 years, he served as keyboardist & musical director for tap dance legend Gregory Hines. His composition, "Boom", was choreographed by Mr. Hines & performed at the nationally televised "Gala For The President" with President & Mrs. Clinton in attendance. He was also the composer of all of the original music for "The Gregory Hines Show" on CBS-TV.
He was one of the original percussionists for Leonard Bernstein's "Mass" which was written & performed for the opening of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. He performs on the original recording of that piece with Mr. Bernstein conducting.
He has also played on countless TV & Radio commercials & themes. Some of the artists he has performed & recorded with include Liza Minnelli, Leonard Bernstein, Michael Franks, Noel Pointer, Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard, Don Rickles, Billy Eckstine, Gloria Gaynor, Rodney Dangerfield, Regis Philbin, Donna Summer, Larry Coryell, Jon Lucien, Johnny Hartman, Savion Glover, Perry Farrell (of Jane's Addiction), Richie Stotts (of the Plasmatics) & Charles Aznavour. He currently tours as drummer for Liza Minnelli & performed on her Tony Award winning show, “Liza’s At The Palace” as well as the Grammy-nominated cast album.
In 2005, he released his 1st CD entitled, “Sanctuaries”, that received praise from artists such as Mike Garson (David Bowie’s keyboardist) & Mark Soskin (Sonny Rollins’ pianist). His new CD, “First Melancholy, Then The Night Stretch”, continues in the same vein, presenting a selection of pieces for solo piano that span many styles & moods, from jazz to classical to folk to new age.
His website is www.humanrick.com



to write a review

Helena Dee

Rick Cutler's Piano Music Blends Jazz, New Age and Classical
On his latest solo piano album, First Melancholy, Then The Night Stretch, Rick Cutler effortlessly blends gentle new age sounds with jazz improvisation -- no easy feat. Somehow he makes it work. Some of the tunes are soft, slow, dreamy, introspective, meditative and relaxing. Other pieces are more rhythmic, forceful, intense, vibrant and uptempo.

Cutler has made a career for years as a top-call session and touring player out of New York City for all types of acts from standards-showtunes singers like Liza Minnelli, tap-dancer Greg Hines and Charles Aznavour; jazzier singers such as Harry Connick Jr. and Michael Franks, and pop-disco divas including Donna Summer and Gloria Gaynor. Cutler also has played on-stage with jazz greats Herbie Hancock, Billy Eckstine, Freddy Hubbard and more. So Cutler obviously has the chops to hold his own with the big guys.

It would be interesting to hear Cutler in the context of either a new-age or modern-classical ensemble with some other instruments (violin, flute, cello, etc.) or a mainstream-jazz trio, quartet or quintet (bass, drums, guitar and horn) to see how his style would translate to those settings. Based on his history as a hired gun, he no doubt would fit well within any type of group setting. But here he is playing solo which leaves it wide open for anything he might want to do (slow the tempo, speed up, change rhythms, whatever). But his variations keep the interest level high on this project. Often, when you might think you know where a piece is going, he changes something surprisingly -- maybe suddenly chording with both hands, playing some very high or very low notes, or getting more forceful for a stretch.

On a couple of tunes, “Alien Landscape” and “From Then Til Now,” the playing becomes fairly avant garde, sort of like the sounds that swept the world of classical music at various times when artists like Bartok or Erik Satie came along, or even early Stravinsky. But then Cutler turns around on a tune like “Thank You (For McCoy Tyner)” -- obviously a tribute to that jazz great -- and becomes very melodic and more structured. “Noise (For Tony Williams),” another tribute, is anything but noise. Sometimes the titles are misleading because “Gentle Nightmare” is fairly melodic and not as weird as the name suggests, while “Indian Sunset” is more vibrant and powerful than it is mystical, laid-back or end-of-the-day-peaceful. “Hymn” is pretty forceful for a hymn. He has one great title for an instrumental piece: “Who Needs Words.”

This is a very worthwhile album that makes the listener wonder what Cutler will come up with next, either on his own as a solo performer or with a group around him.

Raj Manoharan (www.rajmanreviews.blogspot.com)

The RajMan Review
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.

Kathy Parsons

From MainlyPiano
"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!