Stew Cutler
Blues From Another Angle

COGNA Records

Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © May 2022

Every once in awhile I come across an artist that I never heard of and then after researching them – and more importantly, after hearing their music – I wonder why I hadn’t. Stew Cutler is one of those artists.  Since starting out as the guitarist for Z.Z. Hill some forty years ago, Stew’s mastery has led him to playing with the likes of Percy Sledge, Eddie Floyd, Wilson Pickett, Fontella Bass, David Sanborn, Earl King, Queen Esther Marrow and the Harlem Gospel Singers, and a whole lot more.  Stew is also featured on the soundtrack of Amazon’s “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” – where he also appears on screen as a member of the strip club house band in one of this season’s episodes.  Now let’s go listen to some music.

Blues From Another Angle is Stew Cutler’s seventh release.  For the project, Stew – on guitars and vocals – is joined by: Bobby Harden and  Mary Jean Cutler (a.k.a. Mrs. Cutler) on vocals; Bill McClellan on drums; Tom Wilson on piano and organ; Booker King and Chulo Gatewood on bass; Steve Elson on saxes; Eric Finland on organ; and special guests Mike Stern on guitar and James Montgomery on harmonica.  The disc’s eleven tracks include nine original and two covers.  BTW, should the disc have you curious, let me just say that it’s ‘blues from a jazzy angle’. 

The disc opens with a song that so many of us baby boomers are so familiar with that just by seeing it on the song listing creates very high expectations.  It’s titled “Baby Can I Change My Mind” (B. Dispenza, C. Wofolk), a classic made famous by the one and only Tyrone Davis.  That said, from every aspect, the guys totally nailed it and just as Tyrone did, Bobby Harden will have you singing along with his fabulous vocals.  Expectations met!   

This next original track is an instrumental titled “Blews” and it’s nicely done in the style of how a jazz lounge quartet would play some blues.  With Bill and Booker in that lazy, jazzy rhythm groove on the drums and bass, the song’s highlights include a fabulous piano solo by Tom and masterful guitar solos by Stew and Mike.  Yeah, I know, five musicians are not a quartet – it was said for effect.   

This original is titled “Can’t Say It Again” and in addition to being a bit reminiscent of “The Thrill Is Gone”, Stew’s monster blues guitar work might just get you thinking of B.B. as well.    

“Listen girls, you got to get it while you can, You’re so lucky to have that man.
Forget about your troubles of the day,  Just lay back and let him take them away.
Listen girls, why don’t you give into his love,  Find the romance and rise above.
Forget about those excuses you feed him,  Don’t you know how bad you need him?”

Is some very sound advice being given by Mary Jean on “Get It While You Can”, a song she co-wrote with Stew.  Quite frankly, I gotta say I agree with her.  With the thunderous rhythm Booker and Bill are banging out on the bass and drums, this one’s definitely for the movers and shakers. 

With “Say What You Mean” featuring Stew on a resophonic guitar; an old time favorite of mine from way back when, James Montgomery working his magic on harmonica; a foot stompin’ rhythm from Chulo on bass and Bill on drums; down home style vocals being sung by Bobby; and someone adding a bit of extra percussion; this acoustic track creates that real bluesy back porch vibe.

This one is titled “Night Shift Blues” (S. Hudson) and although it’s not written by him, in addition to singing it like he’s lived it, the pain Stew’s vocals exude can be felt by all of us who have lived the night shift blues.  Like Stew, because of my 3:00 AM to Noon shift at the post office, I also remember when my ex wife wanted to make love and all I wanted to do was sleep.  Recorded live in a NYC club this one, featuring: Eric (Organ), Chulo (Bass) and Bill (drums) in a laid back rhythm groove; and Stew, belting out the blues both vocally and musically; is straight up, real deal, slow blues.  The song ends with Stew telling the crowd “We’re just having some fun up here” and I’m sure they did as well.  

The album comes to a close in the most perfect way with a perfectly titled tune.  It’s a very soothing six-and-a-half minute instrumental titled “Shine Or Rain” and while listening, which ever of those two – or even a blizzard for that matter – is going on, you won’t really care.  This is Stew, Tom, Booker and Bill putting on a virtual group music lesson.  Listen and learn. 

Other tracks on this excellent project include: “Janque”; “Plane To A Train”, “Please Mr. Vibration”; and “The Passing of R.R, Moore”.

To find out more about Vaneese Thomas and her newest release –  Fight The Good Fight, just go to   Remember, wherever you go and whoever you contact, please let them know the Blewzzman sent you.

The Blues Is My Passion And Therapy
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
P. O. Box 9346
Coral Springs, FL 33075-9346
Blues Editor @
2011 “Keeping The Blues Alive” Award Recipient