For its second outing, the Jim Cutler Quartet delivers twelve tracks, of which all but one are original compositions—mostly from Cutler, with two from pianist Brian Olendorf and one from bassist Philip Demaree. The personnel for this Seattle-area group is the same as on its 2002 debut, JCQ.
The music presented on For Real is straight down the middle of the fairway. Cutler is a good melody player and his tenor styling is lyrically in the Scott Hamilton mode. The solo time taken by Cutler and largely Olendorf is relatively brief, but there is plenty of time to appreciate their talent on this 68 minute album. Cutler appears most often on tenor sax and does get a soprano reading on "Last Boat to Freedom." The two ballads, "The Schweetie" and "Twilight Dawned," are attractive, as is the mid-tempo groove "Another New Beginning." "Mookie's Secret Revenge" is a funky "Song For My Father"-type riff.
So why is it that the one standard, "You Go To My Head," is the best tune on the album? There is nothing wrong with the eleven originals here, but, for variety's sake, another pair of familiar tunes or jazz standards would have been welcome and would have lifted this session up another notch. This combo plays well, and I have no doubts that it could appeal to a wider national audience.
Second and Blanchard, For Real, Another New Beginning, Last Boat to Freedom, The Schweetie, Norma Jeanne, You Go To My Head, Mookie's Secret Revenge, Alan Weight Speaking, Twilight Dawned, Thumper, Get in the Game.
Jim Cutler, saxophones; Brian Olendorf, piano; Philip Demaree, bass; Chris Monroe, drums.