The Wolfe Awakens CD Cover by the Jim Cutler Jazz Orchestra

The Wolfe Awakens is the current release by the Jim Cutler Jazz Orchestra, featuring 11 tracks of original music written by Jim Cutler, Daniel Barry, and Matso Limtiaco.

Track Descriptions

You Started It Having grown up with four older brothers and sisters, this piece is dedicated to siblings everywhere. A classic big band “battle” features two soloists on the same instrument pitted against each other, and for this alto battle I wanted to write something that would bring out the best between myself and Gordon Brown. Our approaches to soloing differ, providing the perfect contrast, and as our solos develop and the intervals become shorter and shorter as we trade off, it becomes clear there’s actually no rivalry at all between us. This piece demonstrates how Gordon’s talent makes my job that much easier on every chart. — JC
Soloists: Jim Cutler, Alto Saxophone – Gordon Brown, Alto Saxophone

Lovely Silver Goddess is a tribute to goddesses everywhere. It is full of strong perfect intervals, interweaving countermelodies, contrary motion, languid beauty, and shimmering sparkle. The beginning and ending feature brass chorales that use trumpets in close harmony. The effect creates mysterious overtones that vibrate in a magical frenzy. The sum of the individual parts is calculated to transport the listener to a heightened state of consciousness. This piece features Mike West on tenor sax, and includes a prominent glockenspiel part played by Susan Pascal. — DB
Soloist: Mike West, Tenor Saxophone

The Wolfe Awakens A spiritual awakening can present itself in many different ways. It often reaches out and grabs you, pulling you along like the waters of a river, with moments to relax and soak in the majesty of its source, then a frenzy of exhilaration from being swept away with the rushing current, with no choice but to let it take you as the water washes over you. This ebb and flow unfolds differently with each performance, and what is heard here represents just one snapshot of that spiritual transformation. — JC
Soloists: Ryan Shepherd, Trombone – Daniel Barry, Trumpet

Angry Men Commissioned by the Jim Cutler Jazz Orchestra to feature Steve Kirk (trombone) and Philip Demaree (bass). Much of the vocabulary is derived from Charles Mingus and Leonard Bernstein. Mingus is known as the angry man of jazz and even though Bernstein didn’t seem like an angry guy he probably got mad sometimes, and his ideas were just so appropriate to the spirit of the piece.I usually try to insult Steve and Phil before we play this so they are sufficiently pissed-off.Hard blowing ensemble passages are balanced with overlapping freely improvised statements in the spirit of the Mingus Big Band. — DB
Soloists: Philip Demaree, Bass – Steve Kirk, Trombone

Sweet Marie Our children are both our legacy and our future, and my oldest daughter is a source of much inspiration in my life. This piece is a snapshot of that inspiration, which she and her sisters provide on a daily basis. Written with soloists Al Keith (flugelhorn) and Ryan Shepherd (trombone) in mind, I spent many months trying to make this piece “perfect”, as perfect as I see my daughters, but much as how parenting occurs I was finally willing to let go and turn it over to the band and let them breathe the life into it that I’d been trying to capture, but wasn’t able to put on paper. — JC
Soloists: Ryan Shepherd, Trombone – Al Keith, Flugelhorn

Peaseblossom Peaseblossom is the name of one of the mechanicals in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The mechanicals are fairies, and Peaseblossom shares the woods with fellow fairies Mustardseed, Cobweb, Mothball and of course Titania, Queen of the Fairies. Most of this piece is very quiet. I feel I owe something to Billy Strayhorn and Olivier Messiaen for the ideas presented here. The orchestration employs a wide palate of colors. Mike West plays the tenor sax solo over Phillip Demaree’s carpal tunnel double stop bass ostinato (sorry Phil). — DB
Soloist: Mike West, Tenor Saxophone

Swallows Dance This piece was written in 2015 while I was living in Chelva, Spain. Chelva is a small village in the mountains west of Valencia. Every morning I’d open the shutters, look out over olive groves and wild rosemary and take a deep breath of herb scented air. Every evening the swallows would dance. They create their own screeching soundtrack as they wildly track down bugs in mid – flight. Spectacular. The music really has nothing to do with the actual swallow’s dance, but it is a reflection of the simple good times I spent in this place. — DB
Soloists: Gordon Brown, Alto Saxophone – Gregg Robinson, Piano – Todd Crooks, Trombone – Ed Littlefield, Drums

Prasek’s Lament This arrangement expands on the original version recorded by the Jim Cutler Quartet, with inspiration from the compositional style of Gil Evans. The bass rings out first, which is then joined by growling trombones, with flugelhorn and alto sax finally joining in with the melody. After the solos wind down, the trombones present a unique interpretation of the bass solo originally played by Philip Demaree on the quartet recording. Fittingly, Phil is then handed the melody on bass before the ensemble returns to complete this interpretation of this haunting yet soulful ballad. — JC
Soloists: Al Keith, Trumpet – Jim Cutler, Alto Saxophone – Philip Demaree, Bass – Mike Mines, Lead Trumpet

St. Hans, St. Peter & Odin The ancient walled city of Visby, on the island Gotland in the Baltic Sea is dotted with magnificent ruins. Visby is also home to an International Centre for Composers. It was during a residency here in 2015 that I wrote this piece. Everyday I’d spend some time at the oldest ruin on the island. It was built in the 11th century as St.Peter’s. As the population grew it was enlarged, becoming St. Hans. But before any of this, rune stones dating back to Viking times were discovered on the site. The birds and insects all behaved kind of differently here. It’s difficult to describe but the overall feeling of the place was of a deep profound peaceful mystery. This piece features a collective improvised trio of Doug Reid (baritone sax), Ryan Shepherd (trombone) and Al Keith (trumpet). — DB
Soloists: Doug Reid, Baritone Saxophone – Al Keith, Trumpet – Ryan Shepherd, Trombone

Haze Gray Paul Gillespie, the featured soloist, is a master of pacing; he understands how to build and create over time. So in writing Haze Gray to feature Paul, I wanted to strike a balance between interesting harmony and an unhurried environment, one that left plenty of room for building and creating. And I knew he would do a fantastic job of playing off the ensemble sections to tell a great story. — ML
Soloist: Paul Gillespie, Tenor Saxophone

The Happy Cemetery Written after a visit to Săpânţa, Romania, where the cemetery’s colorful tombstones are painted with scenes describing the people who are buried there.If you were the butcher you would be happily holding up a big slab of meat. If you got run over by a train you were depicted under the wheels of a train. If you were a communist bureaucrat you were shown sitting at your desk. Many of the residents were shepherds and are shown tending their sheep. The overall feeling is pretty jolly. This piece incorporates stylings from the brass bands of this region. Very brief improvised solos are passed from one band member to the next in a wild frenzied dialog. At some point a two forearm piano cluster delivers the death blow and depending on the accuracy of the trombone entrance immediately following you know if you’ve woken up in heaven or hell. Spoiler alert: In the case of this recording we end up in heaven. — DB
Soloists: Jim Cutler, Soprano Saxophone – Daniel Barry, Trumpet – Ryan Shepherd, Trombone – Paul Gillespie, Tenor Saxophone – Mike West, Clarinet – Doug Reid, Baritone Sax – Gregg Robinson, Piano/Forearm

— Composer Notes by Jim Cutler, Daniel Barry & Matso Limtiaco

Personnel

Saxophones

  • Jim Cutler (Lead Alto)
  • Gordon Brown (Alto)
  • Mike West (Tenor)
  • Paul Gillespie (Tenor)
  • Doug Reid (Baritone)
  • Mike Edwards (tenor, track 8, alto, track 10)
  • Ken Murphy (alto, track 11)

Trumpets

  • Mike Mines (Lead)
  • Pete Kirkman
  • Al Keith
  • Daniel Barry
  • Stephen Pickard (tracks 7 & 8)

Trombones

  • Ryan Shepherd (Lead)
  • Steve Kirk
  • Todd Crooks
  • Chad Kirby (Bass)

Rhythm

  • Gregg Robinson (Piano)
  • Philip Demaree (Bass)
  • Ed Littlefield (Drums)
  • Susan Pascal (Glockenspiel)
  • Jeff Busch (Percussion)

Credits

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