Album DetailsLabel: Cogna
Styles: Jazzy Blues
Visit Artist/Band Website
Styles: Jazzy Blues
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.