Seattle Jazz Saxophonist & Composer Jim Cutler - Biographical Information

Jim Cutler holding saxophones

I've been playing and writing jazz for just about as long as I can remember. Maybe this means I've been at it a while, or maybe I just have a short memory. I've worked with some great people, some of whom you probably have heard of, and many you never have. As you poke around you'll find information about myself, my music, and the groups I perform with. I hope you enjoy my music as much as I've enjoyed creating it.

- Jim

Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Jim began playing the clarinet at age 10, and by age 12 had started playing along with solos by Benny Goodman, Arte Shaw, and Jimmy Dorsey from his parents' record collection. By age 14 he knew he had a passion for jazz, so he borrowed his older brother's tenor sax and auditioned for his Junior High stage band, and within a year went from copying the solos of jazz greats to improvising his own. By high school, he was fully involved in music, performing in the jazz ensemble, orchestra, and choirs.

Receiving both music and academic scholarships, Jim was accepted in the University of Utah's jazz studies program where he studied with Henry Wolking, and graduated with a degree in jazz composition. There are many other influences to Jim's compositional style — Toshiko Akyoshi was one of his very earliest influences, but many other great writers have had at least a subtle influence -- Gil Evans, Thad Jones, Rob McConnell, Bob Florence, and Bob Brookmeyer to name a few.

Seeking a bigger "playground", Jim moved to the Seattle in 1986 and briefly studied with William O. Smith focusing on 12-tone counter point, which inspired him to introduce more contrapuntal motifs into his writing. Since moving to Seattle, Jim has been active as both a composer and performer ever since.

Over the years Jim has had the opportunity to work with many talented artists, including Eddie Daniels, Ray Charles, Dave Weckl, The Manhattan Transfer, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Johnny Mathis, Carmen Bradford, Dee Daniels and Richie Cole. Jim has also performed with both the Harry James Orchestra and the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra.

After working as a sideman for many years, in 2000 Jim established his quartet to provide a more creative and collaborative setting for his compositions and performance style. With Brian Olendorf on piano, Philip Demaree on bass, and Chris Monroe on drums, the group has appeared regularly in Seattle clubs and concert venues. The quartet released its first CD, JCQ – The Jim Cutler Quartet in 2002, following up with For Real in 2003. Learn more about all of Jim's music on the Recordings page

In January of 2004, Jim formed the Jim Cutler Jazz Orchestra, a 16 piece big band featuring some of the most talented musicians and composers in the Puget Sound area.

Along with the Jazz Orchestra and his quartet, Jim can be found playing with numerous groups throughout the Seattle area. Jim and his groups are available for concerts, weddings, private parties, and corporate events.