Butler, Bernstein & The Hot 9

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In 2011, legendary New Orleans pianist Henry Butler joined the Millennial Territory Orchestra, Dean Bowman, and Sandra St. Victor for a performance of the early blues at the Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival. For this show, trumpeter/arranger Steven Bernstein created musical arrangements dating back to the 1890s and 1930s. Following the first performance,Bernstein went on to create new arrangements of Butler’s original work.They performed those pieces at their August 2012 presentation entitled “Early Blues” at Jazz Standard in New York City. With the success of their collaboration, Butler and Bernstein decided to expand on the project. Bringing in a New Orleans rhythm section with Herlin Riley on drums and Reginald Veal on acoustic bass, Butler, Bernstein & The Hot 9 was realized.

While Butler and Bernstein have an intense interest in the history of jazz music, they have no desire to recreate the past. Delving into the hidden roots of jazz instrumentalization, Bernstein focused on the details, including the addition of a violinist, based on early blues convention. Having recorded many of Butler’s improvisations, Bernstein transcribed what he calls “Henryisms” — layers of Butler’s piano improvisations performed by various members of the band. The result is an unhurried, organic yet musically deep, and irresistibly modern take on some New Orleans classics.

Using a traditional New Orleans palate as a launching point, Butler, Bernstein & The Hot 9 explore everything from pre-jazz to thoughtful, yet fearless, improvisations. In March of 2013, Butler, Bernstein & The Hot 9 recorded their first album with producer Joshua Feigenbaum (co-founder, NYNO Records with Allen Toussaint) at Avatar Studios in New York. Their upcoming album, due for release this summer, includes “Gimmie A Pigfoot (And A Bottle of Beer)” by Bessie Smith,“Viper’s Drag” by Fats Waller, and a new arrangement of Butler’s own “Dixie Walker.”

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Steven Bernstein by Michael Weintraub

Steven Bernstein

Steven Bernstein is a trumpeter/slide trumpeter, bandleader, arranger, and composer who lives outside of musical convention. He has released four critically acclaimed CDs including Diaspora Blues (featuring the Sam Rivers trio) and Diaspora Suite. Among other awards, Bernstein was voted the #1 Rising Star arranger on the Downbeat Critics Poll three years in a row. Bernstein’s group projects include Millenial Territory Orchestra, the Levon Helm band, and the Grammy nominated Sex Mob.

The Hot 9

Curtis Fowlkes: trombone

Doug Wieselman: clarinets

Peter Apfelbaum: tenor/soprano saxophone

Erik Lawrence: baritone/soprano saxophone

Charlie Burnham: violin

Matt Munisteri: guitar

Reginald Veal: bass

Herlin Riley: drums

One thought on “Butler, Bernstein & The Hot 9

  1. Nola1978

    I have just read this band is coming to Chicago, but not ’till next year. I have seen Henry many times in New Orleans and in Chicago and have several of his CDs. Have not yet seen Steve, but have much of his music. This band and collaboration looks thrilling. Will there be any touring or recording soon? Please!!

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