"...Henry Butler is arguably the greatest living proponent of the classic New Orleans piano tradition, playing an amalgam of boogie-woogie, jazz, blues and classical in the lineage of Professor Longhair, James Booker, Tuts Washington, Allen Toussaint and countless other emperors of the ivories..."  Richard Skelly - All Music Guide
Henry Butler Quotes and Reviews     Jump to quotes section: Here 

Quotes and Reviews in .PDF format: Here   

Charleston City Paper
Butler, Bernstein & the Hot 9 Give a Jazz History Lesson to a Rowdy Crowd
School's in Session
From the get go, the band had an energy that's hard to find outside of punk venues. They hit the ground running with a hard bop improvisation festival....Their power to look back, while still living in the present and future is one of the best things about Butler, Bernstein & The Hot 9...They take cues from the past, but don't rely on it for everything because they're looking to push boundaries instead of sitting on them. Jazz history isn't their bible, but it's a reference point. They use it to build original and (this can't be underscored enough) potentially innovative music. Whatever's next for them, it can't come soon enough.

—Heath Ellison, Charleston City Paper.
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Charleston City Paper
Steven Bernstein and Henry Butler's disparate backgrounds form the perfect old-school New Orleans jazz band
Opposites Attract
"We've had this band for five years and we're still sometimes just standing there slack-jawed, like, 'What did Henry just play?' His playing sounds like the oldest music you've ever heard and the newest music you've never heard. There's so much mystery because he's going so many places."

—Steven Bernstein (Butler, Bernstein & The Hot 9), as quoted by Vincent Harris, Charleston City Paper.
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Named #1 in Jazz for 2014 by The (London) Sunday Times and the CMJ Jazz Charts for Butler, Bernstein & The Hot 9's Viper's Drag.

The Chicago Tribune has named Henry as one of the Year's Best in Jazz for Viper's Drag.

Henry Butler inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame as Master Artist.

Photo by
Henry Butler
Click to Enlarge
Sight Unseen:
International Photography by Blind Artists, featuring work by Henry Butler and others, marks its 15th venue in 5 countries in 6 years at the 
Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
2/18-–9/18, 2016

SIGHT UNSEEN Exhibition Record
• California Museum of Photography, Riverside, CA
• Kennedy Center for the Arts, Washington, DC
• Centro de la Imagen, Mexico City
• Centro Regional de las Artes de Michoacán, Zamora, Mexico
(Installation in association with international arts education conference: Del Encuentro Internacional de Educación Artistica)
• Flacon Arts Complex, Moscow, Russia
• Galeria De Arte, Universidad Iberoamericana, Puebla, Mexico
• Center for Visual Art, Denver, Colorado
• Biblioteca Vasconcelos, Mexico City
• Fototeca de Nuevo León, Monterrey, Mexico
• Centro Fotográfico Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Oaxaca, Mexico
• Naples Museum of Art, Naples, Florida
• Museo de Arte de Querétaro, Santiago de Querétaro, Mexico
• Sejong Center, Seoul, South Korea
• Purdue University, Hammond, Indiana
• Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Founded in 2008, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the first museum solely dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights.

By Andrew Adler
October 21, 2015
In 'Yowzie,' choreographer Twyla Tharp and New Orleans-born pianist Henry Butler combine for a whirl of rollicking early jazz

When Twyla Tharp brings her newest dance troupe to New Orleans Saturday night (Oct. 24) to help celebrate the choreographer's 50th anniversary as a creative phenomenon, the occasion will acknowledge an additional, powerful connection between the city and the music it calls its own: Henry Butler.

Butler – blinded by glaucoma as a child, a lauded pianist, composer, and above all, passionate advocate for traditional New Orleans jazz – is a principal force behind the second half of Tharp's program at the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts. He's the anchoring keyboard presence throughout "Yowzie," a heady dance amalgam of music by Fats Waller, Jelly Roll Morton, and similar bigger-than-big personalities.

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The Chicago Tribune
By Howard Reich
August 25, 2015
Henry Butler presses on after Katrina and a bout with cancer

Ten years ago this week, the colossal New Orleans singer-pianist Henry Butler saw his life very nearly wrecked by Hurricane Katrina and its disastrous aftermath. Butler's New Orleans house was deluged in six feet of water, most of its precious contents destroyed.

The musician, like thousands of other New Orleanians, was left "pretty much homeless," he says.  As the 10th anniversary of the Aug. 29 storm approaches, Butler finds himself contemplating what happened, and how it changed everything.

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The Chicago Tribune has named Henry as one of the Year's Best in Jazz for Viper's Drag.

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Guernica Magazine
By Thomas Larson
November 25, 2014
The Music Is Always There, Part 2.
Reflections on jazz, improvisation, and the New Orleans Jazz Fest, 2014.

During Jazz Fest's two weekends, one hears on the three or four stages devoted to New Orleans music that redoubtable party spirit Rebirth is famous for. But don't believe such revelry cinches the elastic waistband of New Orleans' musical trousers. Yes, jazz fans cherish the groove. But local musicians, especially those who've left, have built mini-mansions on top of the old familiar styles. I think of native-born singers/players as diverse as the Boswell Sisters, Branford Marsalis, Harry Connick Jr., Lil Wayne, and others who have re-Latinized or re-Africanized the sound and, where necessary, tow the audience along with them. That's trad too.

Mid-afternoon of the second Jazz Fest Friday, I'm ringed round a hotel lobby table with Steven Bernstein and Henry Butler, the eponymous core of the new New Orleans-New York meld, the Butler-Bernstein Hot 9.
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The Toledo Blade
By Tom Henry
October 16, 2014

Henry Butler & Steven Bernstein: Viper's Drag (Impulse)

Vampy, bouncy, playful, and saucy: Here's an incredibly fun take on resurrecting hot jazz from yesteryear, courtesy of 64-year-old Henry Butler, one of the best living New Orleans pianists (and, trust me, it says a lot to be mentioned in such fine company) and 52-year-old ace trumpeter-arranger Steven Bernstein of New York.

Viper's Drag is a kick-up-your-heels romp through ragtime and early jazz classics, some written nearly 90 years ago by the likes of Fats Waller and Jelly Roll Morton, yet modernized in a swingin', yet subtle and respectful way. The disc is noteworthy both for its irresistible music and for the fact it's the latest incarnation of the Impulse! jazz label, which used to record none other than John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, Sonny Rollins, and other legends.
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By Scott Nygaard
August 14, 2014

Hot, virtuosic New Orleans jazz in all its glory—past, present, and future.

For those roots-music fans who had come to rely on the HBO series Treme for a regular dose of New Orleans jazz, funk, and blues, Henry Butler and Steven Bernstein’s Viper’s Drag (released on the newly revived Impulse Jazz label), could not be more welcome and timely. With Viper’s Drag and their resplendent backing band the Hot 9, Butler, a virtuosic New Orleans jazz pianist who extends the line begun by Jelly Roll Morton, and Bernstein, a New York trumpeter/arranger who has shown how vibrant trad jazz can be with his Millennial Territory Orchestra, have created an exuberant tribute to New Orleans music, past, present, and future.
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Express Milwaukee
By Todd Lazarski
July 21, 2014

Henry Butler & Steven Bernstein: Viper's Drag (Impulse)

What’s old is new again, again—especially in Brooklyn. Amidst the borough’s prohibition-era cocktails, faux speakeasies and timeless sea of ’20s-ish clever caps and facial hair, lies Katrina refugee and New Orleans piano traditionalist Henry Butler. His latest effort finds him alongside New York City’s finest, adhering mostly to an early Satchmo-era aesthetic and running the gamut of jazz’s heyday and similarly okra-inflected bayou boogie.
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July 13, 2014

The New Thing In Jazz, Revisited

Impulse Records is the legendary label that proudly delivered the "new thing" in jazz in the 1960s: avant-garde records from the likes of John Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders. It also helped jazz cross over to a larger audience; quite a few flower children bought Impulse albums.
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The Wall Street Journal
July 15, 2014

Modernizing Morton

Steven Bernstein and Henry Butler build on a legacy that goes back to Jelly Roll Morton.

Henry Butler's 1986 debut recording, "Fivin' Around," married the past and present in meaningful ways, establishing his place within both a long line of distinctive New Orleans piano virtuosos and a forward-leaning modern-jazz landscape. It also marked the reactivation of the Impulse label, once the storied home of John Coltrane. The label fell silent again in 2004, but now "Viper's Drag," by Mr. Butler, trumpeter Steven Bernstein and their new band, the Hot 9, inaugurates Impulse anew as a division of Universal Music France.

The new album begins with its title track, a fresh-sounding rendition of a Fats Waller composition first popularized by Cab Calloway in 1930. The relationship between Messrs. Butler and Bernstein has a history, and it has flowered mostly by looking back with equal measures of reverence and invention.
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Editors’ Picks JUNE 2014
DownBeat Magazine
By Davis Inman

Henry Butler & Steven Bernstein, Viper's Drag (Impulse)

There's no doubt that hot jazz is, well, hot again. Just look at the recent New York Hot Jazz Festival, which saw young practitioners of the genre exploring tunes that were recorded nearly 90 years ago by Fats Waller and Bix Beiderbecke. But here's an even fresher take on hot jazz: 64-year-old pianist Henry Butler and 52-year-old ace trumpeter-arranger Steven Bernstein's romp through tunes by Waller and Jelly Roll Morton on Viper's Drag, which infuses hot jazz with contemporary New York avant-garde influences. Butler, who also composed three of the songs here, makes his triumphant return to the newly re-launched Impulse label. (His first two albums were released on the label in the '80s.) Bernstein is comfortable in a range of styles, from jazz and funk to Americana (the late drummer Levon Helm was a onetime employer). In his charts, Bernstein has captured some of the pianist's stylistic quirks, which he dubbed "Henryisms" and wrote into parts for different members of the Hot 9 band. The opener, which is the title track, establishes a solid foundation for this meeting of the minds. The track begins with ecstatic piano and drums, and then the horns join in, building to a kind of New Orleans funk groove. Butler guides the ensemble through 7 glorious minutes of this 1934 Waller tune, with impressive stride piano playing throughout. Butler's "Dixie Walker" has more of a classic Dixieland feel, with some hot ensemble passages, clarinet obbligatos and violin wails. Butler sings on a languid version of "Buddy Bolden's Blues," accompanying himself with his highly expressive piano work. Bernstein is the behind-the-scenes star here, adding an unpredictable, bluesy wildness to the music, which nods to jazz's early pioneers.

Jazz Times review - June, 2014
By Steve Greenlee
Henry Butler-Steven Bernstein and the Hot 9
Viper’s Drag (Impulse!)

The latest resurrection of the Impulse! Imprint begins on the perfect note, with the retro-modern jazz-blues joint Viper’s Drag, by co-leaders Henry Butler and Steven Bernstein and their band the Hot 9.
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Reviving the House Coltrane Built
Signs of a Turnaround for Impulse Records
By Nate Chinen
nytimes.com  April 22, 2014
Henry Butler, the New Orleans jazz pianist, released his debut album, "Fivin' Around," in 1986. And along with ratifying a major talent — a smartly rampaging virtuoso whose engagement in New York soon afterward drew a smattering of notable pianists. —
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Impulse! Label Being Reactivated by Universal Music Group
Maiden release is Henry Butler-Steven Bernstein and the Hot 9's "Viper's Drag"
By Jeff Tamarkin
Jazztimes.com  April 23, 2014
Impulse! Records, the imprint that, in the 1960s and '70s, released classic recordings by John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Gil Evans, Sonny Rollins and many other artists, is being revived by the Universal Music Group. The label's reactivation will launch with the release of Viper's Drag, by Henry Butler-Steven Bernstein and the Hot 9, due out July 15 in the U.S. —
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Chicago Tribune
Published: January 24, 2014

New Orleans has produced more than its share of virtuoso pianists, dating back even before Jelly Roll Morton emerged at the turn of the previous century. Remarkably, that lineage continues forth through today, nowhere more compellingly than in the work of Henry Butler, who achieves more with 88 keys than most mere mortals.  Full article HERE

New York Times
Published: January 2, 2014

The time machine was set on shuffle for Henry Butler with Steven Bernstein and the Hot 9 on Wednesday night at Jazz Standard, where they are performing together through Sunday. Their collaboration is both historically aware and fully prepared to cut loose.  Full article HERE


"A New Orleans maverick with an appetite for everything from blues to James Booker-style funk, Butler embarks on an exhilarating voyage [on Viper's Drag] to the music's roots, incorporating elements of Jelly Roll Morton while bringing it bang up to date." –London Sunday Times

"Henry Butler is an unquestioned virtuoso, the player who's pushed the New Orleans piano sound forward the last 30 years. Like James Booker or Art Tatum, he needs no accompaniment to mesmerize an audience. From this viewpoint, Butler's best albums are arguably his solo performances: Blues and More, Vol. I and PiaNOLA Live.

"Butler has recorded several other projects, of course, in duos, trios and quartets. No one can deny that sidemen like Jack DeJohnette and Charlie Haden provided stellar moments on Butler's early recordings. It's wonderful that he recorded several tracks with Snooks Eaglin. His duet with Kaz Kazanoff, 'Tetherball," on Blues after Sunset is spectacular, a must-hear... There's never been a disc exactly like [Viper's Drag]; think of Ray Charles' Big Band with more unhinged piano, or perhaps a funkified Earl Hines and His Orchestra and you're getting warm. It's Butler's best collaborative effort." —Tom McDermott, Offbeat

"'Gimme a Pigfoot' [on Viper's Drag]speaks to the ageless quality of jazz, as Henry Butler and Steven Bernstein weave together strands both old and decidedly contemporary. They come off, by turns, like rowdy saloon players, hipster iconoclasts and cooly urbane modernists—all within the confines of this six-minute triumph...Together, they're breathing new life into a once-proud jazz label, illustrating how styles like 1920s-era New Orleans Dixieland, mid-century Kansas City jump blues and today's hipster downtown scene can co-exist (not just within a band, or even an album, but inside one chin-wagging outburst of brassy creativity) and making the case, all over again, for a future in this music that builds on the past—rather than fetishizing it." –Nick Deriso, Something Else Reviews

"Henry Butler is a standout pianist who adds contemporary bite to the rolling jangle and off-kilter vamps of his New Orleans heritage...Here [Viper's Drag], he teams up with Brooklyn-based trumpeter/bandleader Steven Bernstein for a knowing dip into a classic repertoire...Butler's playing lights up every track." –Mike Hobart, London Financial Times

“His musical genius is legendary. Musicians and fans both hail Butler as the next piano superstar. Butler is a quintuple-threat, being an excellent writer, arranger, interpreter, player and multi-instrumentalist… The sounds that Butler coaxes, cajoles, pounds and brings forth from his instrument fill the entire room. It is both amazing and deeply satisfying to know that PiaNOLA Live was made by only one man and his piano.” —Mike Perciaccante, All About Jazz

“All of the arrangements [on PiaNOLA Live] have fanciful touches, some more than others, but even when Butler appears on the verge of tossing in the kitchen sink, his keyboard rhapsodies are charged with an air of spontaneity and a ton of funk.” —Mike Joyce, Jazz Times

“He lives in the area where talent borders on genius. His left and right hands perform independent but congruent dances, and the music soars.” —Steve Daniels, Santa Barbara Blues Society

“Anyone who has heard the New Orleans musician over the years at the Green Mill or Buddy Guy’s Legends or the Jazz Showcase knows that he transcends genre. Sophisticated jazz-piano improvisation, soulful blues keyboard work and ferociously intense vocals converge when Butler takes the stage.” —Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

“Henry Butler is arguably the greatest living proponent of the classic New Orleans piano tradition, playing an amalgam of boogie-woogie, jazz, blues, and classical in the lineage of Professor Longhair, James Booker, Tuts Washington, Allen Toussaint, and countless other emperors of the ivories.” —CMJ New Music Report

“Pure Louisiana Blues Magic.” —Hilarie Grey, Jazz Times

“Henry Butler’s new album (PiaNOLA Live) is exactly what the title promises, a pure, uncut blast of New Orleans piano…Not only is he obviously enjoying the fact that he can play a ridiculously complex tangle of notes, but he can’t help but laugh a time or two out while doing it. This is the album that people have been waiting for Butler to make, and the wait has been worth it.” —Alex Rawls, Offbeat Magazine

“Percussive in his attack, ostentatious with his technique…the picture of stubborn mischief—and, not coincidentally, of New Orleans pianism. He obliged the spirit of the occasion with his own stylistic consommé: billowing whole-tone glissandi; furrowed, Monkish hiccups; boppish two-handed octaves; flare-ups of funk and Chopin.” —New York Times

“He is the pride of New Orleans and a visionistical down-home cat and a hellified piano plunker to boot…He plays the piano like Art Tatum, but when he starts singing he sounds like Paul Robeson.” —Dr. John

“[Henry Butler] revels in fluency and facility, splashing chords all over the keyboard and streaking through solos with machine-gun articulation.” —Jon Pareles, New York Times

“[Henry Butler] has established himself as the finest all-around pianist in New Orleans, a city known for its piano masters.” —Jazz Times

Whether it's as a soloist or with his blues groups (Henry Butler and the Game Band, and Henry Butler and Jambalaya) or his traditional jazz band (Papa Henry and the Steamin' Syncopators) you're in for the ride of a lifetime.

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 September 28 Bar LunAtico
Brooklyn, NY
Henry Butler Solo
 October 11 Cleveland Museum of Art
Cleveland, OH
Butler, Bernstein & The Hot 9

 October 21 Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center
Green & White Brunch
East Lansing, MI
Henry Butler

 November 2 Bar LunAtico
Brooklyn, NY
Henry Butler Solo
 November 10 Little Gem Saloon
New Orleans, LA
Henry Butler

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