Formed in January of 2004, the Jim Cutler Jazz Orchestra features top Northwest musicians performing music written by band members, Northwest composers, and classic material that isn’t performed enough, including works by Gil Evans, The Stan Kenton Orchestra, Maynard Ferguson, and Buddy Rich.
Since its inception, over 300 different musicians have taken the bandstand, featuring guest artists such as Brian Lynch, Pete Olstad, and Seattle’s very own Greta Matassa. Local composers that are featured on a regular basis include Jim Cutler, Daniel Barry, Robert Beasley, Matso Limtiaco and James DeJoie.
Album Release – The Wolfe Awakens
The Jim Cutler Jazz Orchestra is pleased to announce the release of their latest album The Wolfe Awakens. The album consists of 11 tracks, featuring original music written by Jim Cutler, Daniel Barry, and Matso Limtiaco.
Visit the Recordings page to see all albums by The Jim Cutler Jazz Orchestra.
“The Jim Cutler Jazz Orchestra, which was formed in 2004, mostly performs compositions by locally known and unknown musicians. Do not underestimate the importance of this. It not only helps to keep the works of local artists in circulation—works that might be overlooked or never see the light of the public—but it provides our regional tradition with a sense of seriousness and legitimacy. When your composition is performed by JCJO, it’s validated by the authority of 15 or so professional musicians.”
— Charles Mudede, The Stranger
Jim Cutler (lead alto, band leader)
Jim’s crazy idea to have a weekly house big band at Tula’s resulted in the formation of the Jim Cutler Jazz Orchestra. Initially playing lead tenor, it was only natural for Jim to eventually move to the lead alto chair, running both the saxes and band from the front-center of the band. In Jim’s own words: “I’m very fortunate and grateful to have such great musicians play in my band each week – my goal every week is be the worst player in the band, preferably through no fault of my own.”
Gordon Brown (alto)
Originally from Canada, Gordon Brown began playing alto saxophone at the age of 12. After moving to the Dallas area for High School, Gordon eventually packed his bags and headed to Austin where he played lead with the prestigious University of Texas jazz ensemble for his 5 year tenure.
Gordon moved to Atlanta, playing lead with the Georgia Tech jazz ensemble while moonlighting on the lead chair with the Georgia State University big band, and landed what he considers the best gig in the world: playing *the* saxophone chair in the 10-piece Atlanta Falcons house cover band where he was responsible for blowing solos from the sidelines to crowds of 70,000+ fans every home game during the commercial breaks over the 2004 regular season.
In addition to playing with the Jim Cutler Jazz Orchestra, he plays lead alto for the Jazz Police Big Band and saxophone with the True Loves, a Seattle based funk and soul horn ensemble.
Mike West (tenor)
Mike West is a saxophone, clarinetist and flutist living in the Seattle area. Mike attended Roosevelt High School and Central Washington University playing in the award winning Jazz Groups led by Waldo King and John Moawad. Mike later went on to study privately with Bert Wilson, Billy Pierce, Bill Evans, Rick Britestein and Jerome Gray. Performance credits include Doc Severinsen, Dizzy Gillespie, James Williams, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Frankie Valli, Don Rickles, Brian Nova, Steve Miller, Stephanie Porter, The 5th Avenue Musical Theater, Ernie Andrews, Bob Newhart, Joan Rivers, Diane Schuur, Bobby Caldwell, Brian Lynch and John Pizzarelli. Mike maintains a busy private teaching schedule and continues to work on arranging and music publishing projects.
Paul Gillespie (tenor)
Paul Gillespie is a tenor saxophonist who performs regularly in the Seattle area as a member of the Jazz Police, Jim Cutler Jazz Orchestra, PGM Trio, Kevin McCarthy Quartet and others. He aspires to compose and perform modern music and develop a unique style and sound as a jazz artist. Paul studies composition with William O. Smith and recently finished writing a string quartet. A graduate of Indiana University and the University of Washington, Paul currently teaches music at Highland Middle School and Interlake High School in the Bellevue School District in Bellevue, Washington.
Doug Reid (bari)
Originally from Chicago, Doug has been living and performing in the Pacific Northwest for over 30 years. A graduate of North Texas State University, he has performed with a diverse group of prominent entertainers including jazz artists Mel Torme, Bud Shank, Phil Matteson and the Harry James Orchestra; pop entertainers such as The Four Tops, Buddy Miles, and blues artist Etta James. Doug is Chair of the Music Transfer/Performance Department at Shoreline Community College.
Mike Mines (lead)
Mike Mines has played trumpet professionally in the Seattle area since 1985. He has played lead trumpet with the Jazz Police Big Band since the band was formed in 1986. Mike has appeared with such touring artists as the Mills Brothers, the Temptations, Dee Daniels, Dave Weckl, Eddie Daniels and many others.
In addition to playing the trumpet, Mike has taught band at Valley View Middle School in Snohomish since 1985. His concert bands and jazz bands have won numerous awards including 1st Place at Bellevue Jazz Festival in 2002 and 2003, and are known for their consistent excellence throughout the Puget Sound region. Mike has also presented clinics on band room management and middle school jazz band repertoire at Washington Music Educators and All Northwest conferences.
Pete has been teaching and performing as a freelance trumpet player in the Pacific Northwest for over 26 years. He attended Western Washington University as a Performance/Music Education Major from 1979-86 where he studied with Wayne Gorder, Tom Parriott (former co-principal, Vancouver Symphony), Steve Keene, and Syd Potter (Jazz). He has been a brass coach for the Ferndale School District and the North Sound Youth Symphony. He currently teaches trumpet at Shoreline Community College. During his teaching career his students’ accomplishments include: attending and placing first in the State MENC Solo/Ensemble Festival, principal trumpet with The Seattle Youth Symphony. Several students have gone on to attend prestigious institutions such as The Cleveland Institute, San Francisco Conservatory, Tanglewood, Interlochen Performing Arts School, and The Berklee School Of Music.
Pete performs with Latin Bands, Big Bands, Chamber groups, R&B/Soul Bands, Theater Orchestras, and in various other genres throughout the Pacific Northwest as well as on national tours. Artists worked with include Mary Wilson and the Supremes, The Platters, The Coasters, Toni Tenille, The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, The Artie Shaw Orchestra, The Steve Miller Band, Lenny Williams, Dee Daniels, The Whatcom Symphony Orchestra, and local acts including Doctor Funk, Andy O, Type-A!, The Blues Power Revue, and many other acts.
Al graduated from the University of Washington School of Music with a Bachelor of Arts in Trumpet Performance in 1985. Al is a veteran of Seattle’s Jazz and R&B scene for over 30 years, and in addtion to the Jim Cutler Jazz Orchestra, he leads his own quartet (the Al Keith Jazz Quartet, and has performed with Annie Rose and the Thrillers, the KPLU Jazz All Star Band, the Rhythm Boys, ACT Theatre, Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, the Jazz Police, and was a founding member of Seattle’s Roadside Attraction big band
Recording Credits include work for the Toyota Motor Co., Macy’s, trumpet “Voice” for Vivendi/Universal Hoyle Casino Video Games(as a featured soloist and orchestra member), PBS’s “The Kumon Diaries” (National Televised Release), along with dozens of local projects as leader and side man. National credits as a side man include Natalie Cole, the Manhattan Transfer, the Four Tops, James Cotton, Twyla Paris (w/LA great Frank Szabo), the Smothers Brothers, the Greg Kihn Band, and many others.
Daniel Barry is a composer, arranger, conductor, music educator, publisher and trumpet player currently living in Seattle. Although Daniel’s work as a composer falls primarily into the jazz category, his music contains elements garnered from advanced classical music studies along with residencies and festival performances throughout the world, in particular the Caribbean, Central America, Peru, Brazil and Southeast Asia.
He has served as guest Composer/Performer in Residence for the Banda Amazonas in Manaus, Brazil, the Conservatoire de Tatui in Sao Paulo Brazil, and as a featured composer at the 2003 Lima Jazz Festival in Peru.
He is the owner/operator of Daniel Barry Publications and holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in Music Composition from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Ryan, a native of the Salt Lake City area, started playing frequently with Mambo Jumbo, a premier salsa band in Salt Lake while studying computer science at the University of Utah. This collaboration led to performances at the 2002 Olympics medals plaza opening for the Dave Matthews Band, and post-award parties at the Sundance Film Festival. Working as a freelance musician Ryan frequently appeared in pit orchestras for premier local productions and national Broadway tours. He also played lead trombone in the Salt Lake City Jazz Orchestra, worked with many top local musicians, and had the privilege to perform with nationally recognized artists including Conrad Herwig, Andy Martin, Chuck Findley, Bobby Shew, Eddie Daniels, Ira Nepus, Frank Sinatra Jr, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Don Rickles, Debby Boone, Mary Wilson, and Gladys Knight. In 2010, Ryan and his wife Lori co-founded the Utah Wind Symphony, the region’s premier concert band, and the ensemble’s rapidly-spreading reputation led to guest appearances with composer David Maslanka, trumpeter Allen Vizzutti, and trombonist Larry Zalkind.
After working as a professional software developer for ten years, Ryan was hired by Microsoft and relocated to the Seattle area in 2012, and performs with the Jim Cutler Jazz Orchestra and the Seattle Wind Symphony.
Steve has played with many jazz groups in the Seattle area, small, large and in-between. In addition to playing with the Jim Cutler Jazz Orchestra, Steve is a founding member of the Jazz Police big band, and performs frequently with MonkeyGoDutch and Red Fish Blue Fish.
As a lifelong resident of West Seattle, Todd is a familiar face in many big bands in the area, including The Jim Cutler Jazz Orchestra, The Jazz Police and several local college jazz ensembles. Since playing the second chair, then lead trombone for the Mount Hood Community College Jazz Ensemble in the early 80’s, Todd has had the honor to play with such greats as the Jimmy Dorsey Big Band, Bud Shank, Overton Berry, and Cuban stars Ray Fernandez and David Torrens.
By day, Todd is a Realtor with Keller Williams, as well as co-founder of Chad’s Legacy Project, a local non-profit dedicated to the advancement of Mental Health awareness and treatment innovations.
Chad Kirby (bass)
Chad is a native of Kansas City, but moved to Seattle in 1990 to study trombone with Stuart Dempster at the University of Washington. He earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in trombone performance in 1998. A few years later, an accident injured Chad’s slide arm and left him unable to play for many years. During the interregnum, Chad attended law school at Seattle University, figuring that you don’t need that many good arms to be a lawyer. Eventually, Chad began to wonder whether it would be possible to play trombone again. After some years of experimentation and much custom fabrication, he discovered that playing bass trombone requires fewer good arms than he originally thought. These days, Chad practices IP law and develops software for patent attorneys when he’s not playing left-handed bass trombone with the Orchestra Seattle, Jay Thomas’ Usual Suspects big band, and the Jim Cutler Jazz Orchestra.
Gregg Robinson (piano)
Gregg has played professionally in Chicago and Seattle for over 35 years. In addition to composing and arranging, Gregg has accompanied singers, worked with big bands, and done cabaret and theater work. In Seattle, he also plays with the Jump Ensemble and the Momentum Jazz Quartet, and has worked with Hadley Caliman, Rick Mandyck, Stephanie Porter and Perry Robinson, among others.
Philip Demaree (bass)
Phil has been playing bass for over 25 years. A native of Boulder, Co., he attended the University of Northern Colorado under Gene Aitken. He spent several years touring the US and Canada and appearing with such artists as Ray Charles, The Mills Brothers, Dianne Schuur, Joe Williams, and John Gary.
In addition to playing bass, Phil sings with the Jim Cutler Jazz Orchestra on a regular basis. He also plays and sings regularly with Roadside Attraction big band and vocal trio Trish, Hans and Phil, and plays with the Jim Cutler quartet. He also composes and arranges for each of these bands.
Phil has been arranging choral pieces for the Seattle Choral Company, including “Santa Through the Swing Years,” which was performed for the first time in SCC’s Christmas 2004 concert.
A Renaissance man for the new millennium, Phil also has extensive expertise in the computer industry, having worked with computer hardware and software troubleshooting for almost 20 years.
Ed Littlefield (drums)
Ed, a Tlingit Native of Southeast Alaska, received his formal music education at the University of Idaho where he majored in Vocal and Instrumental Music Education with a percussion emphasis. He studied percussion with Daniel Bukvich and jazz history and theory with Robert McCurdy.
Now based out of Seattle, Ed has had the pleasure of playing in the Idaho-Washington Symphony, The Orion Trombone Quartet, The Jazz Police, The MusicWorks Jazz Orchestra and many other professional groups in the Pacific Northwest. In addition to working as a freelance musician he has also worked on Carnival Cruise Lines ships and has toured with various groups, including as the internationally known ensemble The Dallas Brass and the percussion group Juxtapercussion.
Previously, Ed was the music director at Sitka High School where he taught Jazz Band, Symphonic Band, Jazz Choir, Concert Choir and Guitar class. He has also been on the music faculty at the Sitka Fine Arts Camp for seven years teaching elementary music, percussion and body percussion classes. He continually strives to achieve high standards in music education by giving clinics and workshops in and out of the traditional classroom around the Northwest.
Ed is also a composer and arranger of Native music, and arranged several choral pieces commissioned by the Alaska Native Brotherhood and the Sitka High School music program. He recently completed an album combining traditional Alaskan Native music with jazz, which is entitled Walking Between Worlds.