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. Cutler studied at Julliard and with Chick Corea, later forming a fusion outfit (Exit). Thus, one expects a potpourri as 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). Let me warn, though, that you must listen REALLY carefully to appreciate how subtly this gent operates because it's in the smallest flourishes and barely uttered enunciations that his truest talent lies, and they change everything. If you don't do this, you don't stand a prayer of understanding what's truly occurring here. I have to suspect that Cutler made Melancholy more for other piano players than the general public, so, if you want to know how such musicians communicate among themselves, this is the place. Expect to discover a part of your own aesthetic that you hadn't known existed.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles