Born in New Orleans, pianist/composer Henry Butler was drawn to the piano as a child. By the age of seven he was receiving formal musical training in the boys' glee club at the Louisiana State School for the blind and next went on to study with Professor Longhair, Harold Mabern, Ronald Hanna, George Duke and saxophonist Cannonball Adderley.
Continuing his studies in classical piano and voice, Butler attended Southern University in Baton Rouge, La. and completed his master's degree at Michigan State University. From 1980 to 1987 he lived and performed in Los Angeles, where he recorded two albums for the MCA/Impulse label while working in radio and as a music consultant for Motown and the Stevie Wonder organization.
He spent two years living and performing in New York City before accepting an Associate Professor of Music position at Eastern Illinois University. In 1996 he returned to his hometown, where he now concentrates on his composing and performing career.
Drawing inspiration from 1920s stride piano, 1940s bebop, 1950s R&B and 1990s avant-garde, among other sources, Butler has forged a musical vocabulary at once universally recognizable yet uniquely expressive of his own strengths, background and personality.
"Blues After Sunrise" showcases Butler's sizzling piano and vocal performances, which traverse a variety of styles from cool jazz to R&B. Also appearing on the CD is guitarist Snooks Eaglin and harmonica ace Mark Kazanoff.
This review is copyright © 2000 by Matt Alcott, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.