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The Jim Cutler Jazz Orchestra: In Progress (2006)

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The Jim Cutler Jazz Orchestra: In Progress How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The Jim Cutler Jazz Orchestra, a hard-driving local house band from Seattle, debuts with this album sculpted in the finest big band tradition. Led by saxophonist and composer Jim Cutler, the sixteen-piece big band features the best talented musicians from the Puget Sound area. The thirteen lively big band arrangements here are entirely comprised of new original compositions from Cutler and trumpeter Daniel Barry, except for John Coltrane's "Dear Love.

The repertoire conveys a modern swing rhythm, drawing upon stylish and sophisticated arrangements and developing a unique big band sound for this orchestra. There's plenty of exciting material to choose from, beginning with the opening "Mack's Place, a piece that, as Cutler writes, encapsulates in one chart everything the band can do: "this tune has it all. The music turns south with the Latin-shaded "Milk Way Mambo and then opens up with two of the best hard-swinging numbers in "Alan Weight Speaking and "Get In The Game, the former featuring some flugelhorn magic by Mike Hines and the latter another solid tenor solo by the leader.

Shifting direction a bit, Cutler's band provides a rather sultry encounter with the Brazilian-flavored "Encontro das Agua. For a taste of a little passion play, you need to check out "Checkered Demon, featuring a dynamite tenor passage by Richard Cole (not to be confused with altoist Richie Cole). Finally in closing out this recording, you have the hot, spicy and partly jungle jingle sound of "View from The Top, and the brief but beautiful light finale, "Twilight Dawned.

Jim Cutler fashions a terrific, rhythmically rich big band effort that's far more accomplished than its title might imply. This impressive and engaging set of sensational charts makes for one excellent musical experience and an outstanding debut.

Track Listing: Mack's Place; Milky Way Mambo; Alan Weight Speaking; Get In The Game; Encontro Das Aguas; Dreamcatcher; Dear Lord; In Progress; Autumn Mist; The Checkered Demon; May Day; View From The Top; Twilight Dawned.

Personnel: Jim Cutler: leader,tenor, flute and clarinet; Steve Treseler, Vanessa Sielert, Richard Cole, James DeJoie, Lisa Gordanier, Chris Fagan, Paul Gillespie: reeds; Chris Amemiya, Steve Kirk, Chuck Wiese, Nelson Bell, Emily Asher: trombones; Dennise Haldane, Mike Mines, Al Kieth, Daniel Barry, Peter Greene: trumpets; Steve Rice: piano; Philip Demaree: bass; Greg Williamson (4,7,10,12), Chris Monroe (1,3,8,9), Scott Ketron (2,5,6,11): drums; Brian Kinsela; piano (4,7,10,12); Susan Pascal: vibraphone, marimba.

Record Label: Pony Boy Records

Style: Big Band


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