Henry Butler: Bourbon Street Blues


Bourbon Street Blues


Henry Butler (piano)


Blues After Sunset (Black Top 114)

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Henry Butler (piano).

Composed by Henry Butler


Recorded: New Orleans, February, 1998


Rating: 94/100 (learn more)

The New Orleans piano tradition is so rich that it is hard for the modern generation of keyboardists to live up to its demands, let alone earn a place alongside the legends of yesteryear. But Henry Butler has proven that he is a huge talent whose name is not out of place when mentioned in the same breath as those of the departed masters such as Professor Longhair, James Booker, or even the great Jelly Roll himself. Butler has, if anything, even greater technical command of the instrument than any of these predecessors, and there are few more enjoyable experiences in piano music today than hearing this artist attack the 88 keys. I prefer Butler unaccompanied, as on this tour de force performance of "Bourbon Street Blues." He has a deep idiomatic command of the full range of vernacular American piano styles, and you will hear bits of ragtime, stride, boogie and funk, all played with his characteristic thousand-watt touch. If his notes were any brighter, even the audience would need to wear shades. As this performance develops, Butler's piano concept becomes more noticeably rooted in the New Orleans tradition, less on-the-beat, instead bubbling and churning around the pulse, yet never loosing it. And always with oomph, or usually an oomph-and-a-half for good measure. If you think that great days of New Orleans piano ended before you were born, this is an artist you need to hear.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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