Charlie Cutten is a gifted tune writer and player whose relaxed command of his instrument and discerning selection of accompanists leaves the listener entranced and engaged. Never trite or needlessly flashy, the superb music emanates brilliantly from Charlie's D-35 guitar. Mr. Martin would be proud. Professor Purple KZMU, Moab, Utah 'Basic Transportation' features eleven instrumental Cutten originals, unobtrusively produced, sparklingly recorded, and beautifully performed by Charlie and friends. Several tunes are reflective and peaceful. Some are funky. Many evoke some kind of image in my mind. For example, the strong melody in 'St. Ignatius' makes me feel I'm walking through a meadow on a sunny day. Ahead of me, a troop of knights in polished armor are walking their horses towards a review stand. The queen drops a hankie. A minstrel band is playing this tune. Or check out 'Late Bloomer Blues.' This funky tune brings to my mind images of a late night session in the back room of some small club way down south. The air is smokey and the night is blue. You've been up waaaay too long, and have had a few too many. You're not necessarily drunk, but beautiful... Missy Raines' distinctive, growling bass voice adds tons of feel to this remarkable sonic experience. I like the steering wheel photo that's reproduced on the CD and in the liner. It is likely the steering wheel of the same old red pickup truck depicted in other photos in the liner notes. (In one, Charlie, his guitar, and his infamous grin are riding barefoot in back.) The dashboard dials are round, echoing the circle of the steering wheel and the CD itself, making for a unique and unified composition. Some circles are small, some big. They're all different and have different purposes, but they fit together elegantly. In the same way, Charlie's compositions are made of themes which are echoed and varied to make a cohesive statements and produce complete pictures. On the cuts in which Charlie has featured melody instruments, they add more than color to the picture - they add their own variations to the themes. Some tunes are peaceful and reflective, such as 'La Valse Pour Le Petit Prince' which makes a beautiful lullaby. '3rd of July,' featuring Heather Winkler's flute, is another. And some of the tunes are distinctly funky, like the title cut (which I just had to jam with) and 'Go Back You're Going The Wrong Way,' in which Charlie's inspired fingerstyle guitar really shines. Throughout the CD, Charlie's instrumental dexterity, remarkable though it is, beautifully supports and never obscures his compositions. 'Basic Transportation' is provided in an unbreakable paper-and-plastic case, which is only appropriate since I think you'll be playing the CD a lot. Topher Gayle, Briarwood.
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