Henry Butler

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For other people named Henry Butler, see Henry Butler (disambiguation).
Henry Butler
Henry Butler (jazz).jpg
Henry Butler after opening for B.B. King at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California, in January 2007.
Background information
Birth name Henry Butler
Born (1949-09-21) September 21, 1949 (age 64)
New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Genres Jazz, New Orleans blues[1]
Occupations Pianist
Instruments Piano
Labels Impulse Records
Windham Hill
Basin Street Records

Henry Butler (born September 21, 1949, New Orleans, Louisiana, United States) is an American jazz pianist.

Biography[edit]

He is known for his technique and his ability to play in many styles of music. In 1987, The New York Times music critic, Jon Pareles, wrote that Butler "revels in fluency and facility, splashing chords all over the keyboard and streaking through solos with machine-gun articulation.[2] In 1998, the Chicago Tribune arts critic, Howard Reich, described Butler as "an enormous intellect matched by unusual physical strength."[3] Referred to by Dr. John as "the pride of New Orleans," Butler is his generation's representative in the Crescent City's lineage of piano players such as Professor Longhair, James Booker, Tuts Washington, and Jelly Roll Morton.

Butler has recorded for several record labels, including Impulse, Windham Hill, and Basin Street Records.

Butler was blinded by glaucoma in infancy.[4] His musical training began at the Louisiana State School for the Blind, where he learned to play valve trombone, baritone horn and drums before focusing his talents on singing and piano.[5] Butler was mentored at Southern University, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, by clarinettist and educator Alvin Batiste.[6] Butler later earned a masters degree in music at Michigan State University in 1974, and received the MSU Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009.

In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated Butler's home in the Gentilly section of New Orleans. His 1925 vintage Mason & Hamlin piano was wrecked by flood waters that rose to nearly eight feet inside his house.[7]

In the wake of Katrina's damage, Butler left New Orleans and briefly relocated to Colorado, living first in Boulder and then Denver. He later spoke of that Colorado period as "a trying exile."[8] In 2009, Butler relocated again to New York.

Butler has pursued photography as a hobby since 1984, as an outgrowth of attending art exhibits in Los Angeles and asking friends to describe featured works.[9] His methods and photos were featured in an HBO2 documentary, Dark Light: The Art of Blind Photographers, that aired in 2010.[10] Butler's photographs also have been shown in galleries in New Orleans.[11]

Discography[edit]

  • Fivin' Around (1986)
  • The Village (1988)
  • Orleans Inspiration (1990)
  • Blues & More (1992)
  • For All Seasons (1996)
  • Blues After Sunset (1998)
  • The Game Has Just Begun (2002)
  • Homeland (2004)

With James Carter

References[edit]

  1. ^ "New Orleans Blues : Significant Albums, Artists and Songs, Most Viewed". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-03-18. 
  2. ^ Jazz: Henry Butler. The New York Times, July 30, 1987.
  3. ^ Henry Butler Nearly Peerless at the Piano. Chicago Tribune, September 27, 1998.
  4. ^ Spartan Saga: Henry Butler. Michigan State Alumni Magazine, December 19, 2011.
  5. ^ Mallernee, Ellen (June 30, 2008). "Piano Man Henry Butler Remembers Not to Forget New Orleans". Gibson.com. 
  6. ^ At Jazz Standard, New Orleans's Loss is New York's Gain. The Wall Street Journal, November 2, 2011.
  7. ^ His Piano Destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, Blind Pianist Henry Butler in Trenton to 'Uplift'. The Trentonian, February 28, 2008.
  8. ^ At Jazz Standard, New Orleans's Loss is New York's Gain. The Wall Street Journal, November 2, 2011.
  9. ^ Blind Blues Pianist Henry Butler Doubles as Photo Artist. Brett Martel, The Associated Press, as published in the Indiana Daily Student, May 16, 2005.
  10. ^ Henry Butler Profiled in Documentary About Blind Photographers. New Orleans Times-Picayune, November 16, 2010.
  11. ^ Knight, Brian. "The Butler Did It: An Interview with pianist Henry Butler". The Vermont Review. Retrieved 2010-05-29. 

External links[edit]