What: The Cutmen at High Gravity Brewfest (see p.16)

When: 3 p.m. Saturday

Where: McMenamins Old St. Francis School, 700 NW Bond St., Bend

Cost: Free

Contact: mcmenamins.com or 541-382-5174

Jason Jackson and the rest of The Cutmen believe in the healing power of music — and especially dance.

Hence the soul-jazz-funk band’s name. About five years ago, when trumpeter and bandleader Jackson put together the octet’s first lineup, he was intrigued by the concept of the cutman in boxing — the person who helps prevent and treat injuries between rounds in a boxing match.

“In my mind, it’s thinking we’re all working people; we go to work,” Jackson said recently while sitting with five of his bandmates at the Van Handel Dental Lab (the business is owned by The Cutmen trombonist Dave Van Handel).

“It’s nice to go out and hear some really good music that just heals the soul over the weekend and just gets you ready for the next week. … It’s just to get people feeling good, maybe take their mind off what’s troubling them. We don’t play too loud. We like to cater to whatever’s going on in the room, so people can have their discussions, have a drink and then dance.”

“And dance,” saxophonist Tom Bury added.

“And dance a little bit more,” Jackson said. “And then, whatever happens after that, we would just like credit as facilitators for whatever happens.”

Jackson, Bury, Dave Van Handel, keyboardist Michelle Van Handel (Dave’s wife), guitarist Jon Bourke, percussionist Kyle Pickard, drummer Connor Streeter and bassist Mark Karwan will get their next chance to do all that at the sixth annual High Gravity Brewfest. The day-long celebration, hosted at one of their favorite haunts, McMenamins Old St. Francis School, will take place Saturday and also feature Portland’s The Quick & Easy Boys.

While bandleader Jackson said he doesn’t like to oversaturate with the band’s performances, The Cutmen have become a regular presence at venues such as Volcanic Theatre Pub and McMenamins over the last five years, and usually end up playing at least one of Bend’s many street festivals every summer. Private house shows also are a staple for the group and have been some of the members’ favorite gigs over the years.

“I think there’s something a little bit more intimate about playing a house party,” Bourke said. “People are really excited when they walk into a party, and there’s a big, live band playing really groovy, funky music.”

Jackson started the band with the goal of playing “instrumental music that was really solo-driven, something (with) a soul-jazz-funk beat to it,” and turned to artists such as Grant Green, Jimmy Smith and Charles Kynard for some of the earliest arrangements.

“The concept was playing 1970s soul-jazz music that a lot of ’90s rappers were sampling from,” he said.

That has since expanded to include instrumental versions of modern songs, as well as material from the band’s ’70s soul-jazz wheelhouse — songs by Childish Gambino, Erykah Badu, Eric Clapton, Tedeschi Trucks Band and Mayer Hawthorne can all be heard in a Cutmen set. Vocal lines and harmonies are often translated by the horn section, leaving the rhythm section to concentrate on the all-important groove.

“The thing that Jason Jackson told me when I joined the group five years ago or something like that, is that it’s all about the groove,” Bury said. “So that’s what the back line lays down — the back line, drums, bass, keys, everybody except for us horn players pretty much. Once you lay down that feeling, then what we add over the top is what a vocalist would usually do. So we are a trio of vocalists, and what they do is the heart and soul of it, and we are the sparkle.”

Everyone in the band is an accomplished jazz musician — Michelle Van Handel is also known as a smooth-jazz vocalist and solo artist; Bourke used to lead an eponymous jazz quartet; Pickard and Streeter play drums in multiple local bands. As such, everyone contributes to song arrangements — and more recently, to writing original material in jam sessions.

Jackson said the band is working on releasing a live recording. The group is less interested in a studio album. The Cutmen are a live band, and the stage is where they thrive — or to go back to the cutman concept, where the musical healing happens.

“We are energy purveyors and amplifiers,” Bury said. “And so that’s, I think, what everybody likes about it the best, is we capture that really well and transmit that back and share it among ourselves and build on it.”

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