Viper's Drag

Viper's Drag
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Rating 5.0
2 ratings
List Price: $10.98
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Item:  BLUN 78127
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CD Details

  • Released:
  • Label: Blue Note

Tracks:

  • 1.Vipers Drag
  • 2.Dixie Walker
  • 3.Buddy Bolden's Blues
  • 4.Henry's Boogie
  • 5.Gimmie a Pigfoot
  • 6.Wolverine Blues
  • 7.King Porter Stomp
  • 8.I Left My Baby
  • 9.Some Iko

Product Description:

Who better to initiate the rebirth of Impulse! Records than Henry Butler? After all, the first time the label was given a new life in 1986, their first recording was Flyin' Around, his debut album as a leader. Viper's Drag is a collaboration between the pianist/composer with in-demand trumpeter and arranger Steven Bernstein (Sexmob, MTO Orchestra), surrounded by an all-star cast including drummer Herlin Riley, bassist Reggie Veal, saxophonists Michael Blake, Peter Apfelbaum, and Erik Lawrence, violinist Charlie Burnham, clarinetist Doug Wieselman, trombonist Curtis Fowlkes, and guitarist Matthew Munisteri. The set features readings of Fats Waller and Jelly Roll Morton tunes, three Butler originals, and two other classic pre-War numbers. But "revivalism" this isn't. Bernstein's expansive charts take in the vast, indefinable whole of Butler's musical persona, which includes a rightful place in the pantheon of New Orleans pianists. Waller's title track contains a minute-long intro displaying the rhythm section's funky modernism, with Butler moving between modal and free jazz, and the horns playing a controlled harmonic chaos. It gives way to an elegant Ellingtonian interlude that shapeshifts to stride before coming hard into the melody and played with joyous abandon. Butler's "Dixie Walker" immediately follows. It's a fluid yet gritty second line. Bernstein's chart evokes the spirit of Sidney Bechet in the horns, and an unlikely, funky blues from Munisteri, complemented by Burnham's swinging fiddle. Butler sings in a slow, slippery style on "Buddy Bolden's Blues." It's a faithful piano and rhythm trio until he throws in blocky harmonic chords and the band comes in with a soaring blues at the four-minute mark. It closes with a sweet, yet nearly cacophonous roar. Syncopated funk signals the intro to Morton's "Wolverine Blues," which segues toward swinging ragtime before Bernstein inserts a funky rhumba with Butler playing guajeo in a montuno to close. The myriad rhythmic and harmonic twists and turns on "King Porter Stomp" never lose sight of the melody and add dimension and color. Both Andy Gibson's 1930s-era "I Left My Baby" and Butler's "Some Iko" feature the pianist's vocals. The former is a soulful blues with a modal-meets-cumbia intro, while the latter is his revisioning of the Caribbean-tinged second-line groover. On Viper's Drag, the combination of Bernstein's bracing, visionary charts in combination with Butler's literally astonishing abilities as both interpreter and soloist, offer not just a new take on hot jazz, but its possibilities for future creative expression. This record is like the soundtrack to a party that has been going on for a century. ~ Thom Jurek

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Product Info:

  • Sales Rank: 47,972
  • UPC: 602537812790
  • Shipping Weight: 0.25/lbs (approx)
  • International Shipping: 1 item

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