Friday, April 1, 2011

CD Review – First Melancholy, Then the Night Stretch, by Rick Cutler

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

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