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Album Review: First Melancholy, Then The Night Stretch
Rick Cutler
Cover image of the album First Melancholy, Then The Night Stretch by Rick Cutler
First Melancholy, Then The Night Stretch
Rick Cutler
2010 / New Dude Records
62 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
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. His music is available at www.humanrick.com, Amazon, CD Baby, iTunes, and other online outlets. Highly recommended!
March 27, 2011
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Kathy's Favorites: 2011