4 STAR REVIEW**** Vinnie Cutro & New York City Soundscape - Sakura - Royal Music Ensemble Records The ten tracks on Sakura display a command of straightforward, mainstream jazz with a post-bop demeanor. Vinnie Cutro & New York City Soundscape - Sakura - Royal Music Ensemble Records RME72307, 60:14 ****: (Vinnie Cutro - trumpet; Jerry Bergonzi - tenor saxophone; Billy Hart - drums; Jay Anderson - bass; Charles Blenzig - piano; Bob Ferrel - trombone on tracks 1 and 6; Mitch Schechter - piano on tracks 4 and 8) On his fourth album as a leader, Big Apple trumpeter Vinnie Cutro reveals why he is one of the bright spots of the New York City jazz community. The ten tracks on Sakura display a command of straightforward, mainstream jazz with a post-bop demeanor. Working with a powerhouse group including tenor saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi, pianists Charles Blenzig and Mitch Schechter, trombonist Bob Ferrel, bassist Jay Anderson, and drummer Billy Hart, Cutro shows his interpretative skills on three jazz standards, his compositional aptitude on six vigorous originals, and his proficiency as a re-arranger, furnishing a vivid reading of an Asian folk song. Cutro opens with his arrangement of the traditional Japanese folk tune, "Sakura," which has an eloquent, nearly theatrical one-minute introduction, at which point the ensemble shifts into a jumping groove, and Cutro flies high on a rapid-fire trumpet solo reminiscent of Freddie Hubbard. Bergonzi follows with a swinging solo, Ferrel strides in with a sharp trombone solo, and Blenzig takes the final solo, knocking out a rhythmically charming piano solo. The second cut, Cutro's "Three for Me," is a swaying waltz elevated by Bergonzi's robust and catchy Coltrane-esque performance, which Cutro then matches with a solo that curves skyward with energy to burn. Blenzig then tosses up another choice keyboard presentation, demonstrating why the underrated pianist is a step above most working within the post-bop style. Jay Anderson has the concluding contribution with a confidently emotional bass solo. The program's first cover is the oft-recorded "Willow Weep for Me," which Cutro weaves into an engaging ballad. Cutro trims the group to a quartet, which allows him to translate the old stand-by into a wistful and quiet treatment, highlighted by several bluesy solos where Cutro glides effortlessly and spins out a wonderfully poised melody. The second interpretive piece is Eddie Harris' famous hit "Freedom Jazz Dance," which the band presents in a nimble and groove-oriented fashion, imparting the zesty arrangement a slightly caustic but friendly designation. The album's third standard is a late-night ruminative rendition of Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight." Mitch Schechter arrays some gorgeous keyboard phrases, while Cutro unfurls his confidential efficacy on an expansive trumpet exhibit. From beginning to end, drummer Billy Hart and Anderson continually keep the placid rhythm moving with a steady, slowly lilting transit. Two of the record's finest accomplishments are Cutro's "Blues for Roy" and "Time Will Tell." "Blues for Roy" is a fast-paced main attraction where the musicians let everything soar. First up, Blenzig takes a turn on the keys with a deft solo that proceeds through some remarkable changes and directions. Bergonzi then expresses an incendiary verve on sax. Anderson lays down fearless walking bass lines behind Hart's spirited toms and rolling cymbals. Hart's animated polyrhythmic solo attests to the sideman's flexible talents, proving why he's been an invaluable associate to Herbie Hancock, Stan Getz, and McCoy Tyner, to name just three. Cutro responds to the other players' challenge with breakneck and lofty musicianship. The closing piece, "Time Will Tell," is marked by an incessant, incipient melodic line, which is conveyed throughout the number by Anderson's bass and Blenzig's sympathetic piano. Hart tethers a fixed rhythmic framework that permits the two horns to progress with harmonic agreement, effecting their segments with an imperturbable and casual-seeming potency. Cutro's muted horn gives the tune a markedly retrospective perception, which is echoed by Blenzig's contemplative chords and unruffled flourishes. On Sakura, Vinnie Cutro shows he can write and organize distinguished, memorable material with an ageless precision and at the same time has the temperament and expertise to bring together and direct a band of consummate musicians. Hopefully this convincing and well-recorded offering grants Cutro the high regard he merits. TrackList: 1. Sakura 2. Three for Me 3. What Is This Thing? 4. Willow Weep for Me 5. Tell Tale 6. Freedom Jazz Dance 7. Blues for Roy 8. Round Midnight 9. Big Chief 10. Time Will Tell -- Doug Simpson Copyright 2009 Audiophile Audition
Vinnie Cutro: Time Will Tell Track Time Will Tell Group Vinnie Cutro & New York City Soundscape CD Sakura (Royal Music Ensembles RME 72307) Buy Track Musicians: Vinnie Cutro (trumpet), Jerry Bergonzi (tenor sax), Billy Hart (drums), Bob Ferrel (trombone), Charles Blenzig (piano), Jay Anderson (bass) . Composed by Vinnie Cutro . Recorded: New York, 2008 Rating: 90/100 (learn more) "Time Will Tell" features a repetitive intro line carried throughout the song by Jay Anderson's plucky basslines and Charles Blenzig's supportive piano backing. Anchored by the metronome-like rim-based timekeeping of a very understated but effective Billy Hart on drums, this rhythmic backdrop allows the two frontline horns to play their nonlinear progressions in classic synchronicity. New Jersey educator and trumpeter Vinnie Cutro has written this tune with a bow to the influences of his predecessors Woody Shaw and Lee Morgan, and succeeds in bringing us back to that distinctive sound. He is effectively paired with powerful tenorman Jerry Bergonzi, the two executing their parts with a cool and coincidental efficiency. Featuring his muted horn, Cutro extracts some distinctively evocative lines that are nicely contrapuntal to the persistently steady asymmetric melody line. Blenzig lends an important element to the overall sound with his thoughtful chords and quiet embellishments, and Hart and Anderson consistently but subtly keep it all together. Vinnie Cutro shows he has the mettle to assemble and lead a swinging band of accomplished musicians, as well as write straight-ahead music that captures a timeless sound.
Vinnie Cutro: Blues for Roy Track Blues for Roy Group Vinnie Cutro & New York City Soundscape CD Sakura (Royal Music Ensembles RME 72307) Buy Track Musicians: Vinnie Cutro (trumpet), Jerry Bergonzi (tenor sax), Billy Hart (drums), Charles Blenzig (piano), Jay Anderson (bass) . Composed by Vinnie Cutro . Recorded: New York, 2008 Rating: 88/100 (learn more) With an explosive introductory drum solo by the inimitable Billy Hart, "Blues for Roy" is the perfect high- tempo blowing vehicle for these musicians to let it all hang out. Jay Anderson does a commendable job laying down relentlessly walking basslines behind Hart's splashing cymbals and crashing toms. Charles Blenzig likewise does a nice turn on the keys with a rapid-fire solo that takes some surprising twists and turns, especially when he demonstrates how he can separate time between hands with no loss of continuity. Jerry Bergonzi solos mid-course and demonstrates why he always has the potential to be incendiary. Leader Vinnie Cutro has a hard act to follow, but comports himself well with his own atmospherics. With the featured playing of Hart dominating the intro and the final solo, "Blues for Roy" might justly be called "Blues for Billy to Swing On." Hart demonstrates why he is one of the most sought-after drummers on the scene today. His enthusiastic wellspring of polyrhythmic ideas is a joy to behold and the surprise gem of this piece.
TODAY'S SPOTLIGHT-The STAR-LEDGER Give me Liberty - and give me jazz "Among the aces were Cutro with a sizzling sound and inventive line flow"
Vinnie Cutro – a powerhouse musician of vigor and invention – shines on Sakura, his fifth CD. Here – working with an ace crew of tenor saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi, trombonist Bob Ferrel, pianists Charles Blenzig and Mitch Schechter, bassist Jay Anderson, and drummer Billy Hart – Cutro offers six vibrant originals, three reworked jazz standards, and a vital interpretation of a Japanese folk song. The trumpeter – whose inspirations include Woody Shaw and Lee Morgan – talks about the improvisational and compositional concepts heard on Sakura. “While I always keep the basic elements of structure and swing, I’m experimenting more with intervals, like 4ths, 5ths, major sevenths,” he says. “Those challenging intervals create a more open, more modern sound.” Indeed, Sakura is packed with engaging, potent music, music that mixes rich melodic warmth with the bristling excitement of adventurous ideas. Among the many gems: the anthem-like title track; the surging waltz, “Three for Me”; the riveting ballad, “Willow Weep for Me”; the open-minded, funky “Big Chief”; the driving “What is This Thing?” This dynamic recording should give Vinnie Cutro the wider recognition he clearly deserves.
Philip Elwood,critic for THE SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER called Cutro's playing "...hot,cool,sweet and tart.He follows in the footsteps of some of the greatest modern jazz trumpeters."
Owen Cordle of JAZZ TIMES wrote "The name Vinnie Cutro must have slipped through the cracks.How could we have missed this fiery trumpet and fluglehorn player who has performed with Horace Silver and Lionel Hampton ? His forte is hard bop,his chops fashioned after Freedie Hubbard and Lee Morgan and his arrangements reminiscent of Silver."
Peter Vasher,writing in Great Britain's JAZZ EXPRESS called Cutro's "Lionel Hampton's most memorable soloist."


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