Henry Butler Pianola Live
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by Corey Harris / Henry Butler ~ Vu-du Menz ~ $10.78
- Released: April 15, 2008
- Originally Released: 2008
- Label: Basin Street Records
Down Beat - p.714 stars out of 5 -- "Everything this New Orleans piano master sings and plays while seated on his stool...tells of a hyperactive musical mind directing lightning fingers and a thunderous foot."
JazzTimes - p.90"Rhythmically fitful and harmonically tweaked, the solo performances are inspired by everything from early jazz and show tunes to vintage country ballads, seminal New Orleans R&B...[and] a Stax classic..."
Dirty Linen - p.75"[His music] remains thoroughly entrenched in the traditions of the Crescent City....Butler pays homage to his former teacher and mentor, Alvin Batiste, concluding the CD with a masterful rendition of Batiste's 'North American Idiosyncrasies.'"
Living Blues - p.62"Butler introduces 'Dock Of The Bay' with a jaw-dropping demonstration of Cecil Taylor-like free improvisation....This set is a striking, often spellbinding display of virtuosity and panache from one of our most gifted keyboard masters..."
Song previews provided courtesy of iTunes
Audio Mixer: Howard Johnston.
Liner Note Authors: Larry Blumenfeld; George Winston.
This is the first solo album Butler has ever cut, and one has to wonder why. It was cut live at various venues over the last 20 years, and with no liner notes it's impossible to tell if you're listening to the post-Katrina Butler at a club near his new home in Denver, or a New Orleans gig from the mid-'80s, not that you can tell the difference. The strong, rolling left-hand bass rhythms and playful right-hand arpeggios are in evidence in every track. "Orleans Interpretations," an original tune, echoes the Crescent City sounds of fonky jazz, rock, R&B, and second line strut. Butler sings both the bass and tenor parts of "Mother-in-Law." You can almost see him smiling as he launches into a scatted horn solo before taking the tune home. He gives Otis Redding's "Dock of the Bay" a slow, bluesy arrangement that accents the song's heartbroken feeling. He plays solemn left-handed gospel chords and drops in a few devil may care chuckles here and there to relieve his high, moaning vocals. The piano work and bluesy vocal on "You Are My Sunshine" makes it sound like a storm is brewing. Ominous rumbling bass chords compliment the sprinkling rainy right-hand arpeggios that bring the tune to a quiet conclusion. "Tipitina" gets an extended workout that starts slow and builds to a frenzied two-hand attack on the piano's upper registers that has the crowd shrieking and gasping. "North American Idiosyncrasies" closes the set with a slow blues full of rippling right-hand runs. ~ j. poet
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