Over the last decade, Henry Butler has established himself as the finest all-around
pianist in New Orleans. Butler's diverse style finds him equally at home
in jazz, blues, R&B, and New Orleans funk and he plays each with masterful
precision. The virtuosic pianist is also a schooled vocalist, an expressive composer
and a fierce performer who can play with as much passion as a soloist as he can
with a band. The piano genius continues to push himself in new directions as a
musician, continually blending the old with the new.
Born in the musical hotbed of New Orleans, Butler found himself attracted to
the piano at a very young age. While attending the Louisiana School for the
blind he began his formal education in music by taking piano lessons, as well
as studying drums, baritone saxophone, and valve trombone. By the age of 14
he was playing professionally in Baton Rouge, and went on to study voice in
high school before enrolling in Southern University. It was here that Butler
fell under the spell of jazz giant Alvin Batiste, who quickly became his mentor.
With Batiste's help, Butler began adding the jazz legacy of Art Tatum,
Bud Powell, Charlie Parker, and John Coltrane to the Crescent City R&B he'd
absorbed from Eddie Bo, Tommy Ridgley, James Booker, and Professor Longhair.
Butler has several albums to his credit, beginning with his debut on the MCA/Impulse!
Label in 1986. Since that time he has produced albums with the now-defunct Windham
Hill Jazz label, the Atlantic Jazz label and Black Top Records. In 2000 Butler
collaborated with bluesman Corey Harris to release an album for Alligator Records.
Henry Butler released his album, The Game Has Just Begun, on Basin Street Records
in early 2002. On this album, Butler takes his musical exploration a step further
with an all out electric recording. June Yamagishi and Shane Theriot lay down
some blistering tracks on guitar and Butler's strong vocal delivery is
present throughout the album. The disc features many original songs, including
the title track, "This is Where I Live," and "Mac Daddy Henry,"
plus a soulful cover of "You Are My Sunshine" and the hard hitting
"Great Balls of Fire," that led JazzReview.com to call the album "pure
Louisiana blues magic."
His newest release, Homeland was released by Basin Street Records on
April 2004 in time for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival which includes
the title track, "Homeland" as well as the tracks, "Jump To The
Music", "Henry's Boogie", " The Way We Loved", "Hey
Little Girl" and "Casino".