Stew Cutler – The Blues From Another Angle
As soon as the first song slid through my speakers I could hear the dynamic soulful captivating showcase of a vocalist who must have listened to lots of Sam & Dave, Percy Sledge & maybe even Joe Tex. The first tune’s a cover of Tyrone Davis’ “Baby, Can I Change Your Mind,” which has a wonderful piano. Bobby Harden’s vocals are as soulful as one can get in 2022. It’s not that juke joint power but more of a bluesy-soulful suave enlivened tone that is captivating. A man who knows he may have done wrong & wants to sincerely rectify it all.
Are there listeners who still appreciate this kind of artistry? Probably. It’s true that rap & hip-hop may have drawn attention away from the blues & true soul music but it’s still made – it’s being crafted with style & ingenuity without losing any of its genre edginess.
Stew Cutler (lead, slide & Resophonic guitar) lays down some solid & expressive burning notes as he follows closely on the heels of Steve Cropper (who’s looking over his shoulder) & that Stax sound of the 60s. Cutler understands the octane of such music & its finesse. There isn’t a wasted note among these essential rhythms. Stew does dive headlong with his ax into Larry Carlton-Pat Metheny land on “Shine or Rain,” that’s distinctive.
Lots of tightly wound dynamic grooves & radiated heat (“Tom Wilson’s organ on “The Passing of R R Moore”). Lassoed by the military drum rolls & gratifying guitar notes that smoke.
“Can’t Say It Again,” is garnished with a tight Wilson piano & chugs along with authority. The Blues From Another Angle (Drops April 22–Cogna) is Cutler’s 7th LP & it was produced by Stewart Lerman in Hoboken, NJ. Crafting 11-blues/soul imbued gems.
Energized & fresh is “Get It While You Can,” which features the formidable vocals of Mary Jean Cutler — mindful of the late Mary Wells. Stew, a well-seasoned guitarist incorporates into his repertoire jazz, gospel & old-fashioned R&B. “Plane To a Train,” is a fiery soulful workout with the energy of Wilson Pickett in Bobby Harden’s voice.
Bassist Booker King steps up on “Please Mr. Vibration,” & suddenly it’s like James Brown is back from Paradise for another song. This could’ve fallen between the cracks of novelty if it wasn’t for the dynamic inflections & phrasing of Mr. King as he strides through this steamy showcase. He even accentuates like poet-pimp Iceberg Slim. Jump to “Say What You Mean,” into Taj Mahal territory with skill & authenticity. James Montgomery’s harmonica leaves impressions.
Musicians include Bill McClellan (drums), Tom Wilson (piano/organ), Booker King (bass/vocal), Mike Stern (guitar), Steve Elson (saxes), Chulo Gatewood (bass), James Montgomery (harmonica), & Eric Finland (organ).
Everything’s well-crafted & performed with clarity. B&W photo: David Landon. The 51-minute CD is available @ https://stewcutler.com/