Symphony Space Live Hear It ALL
Now Playing:
Henry Butler
facebook icon twitter icon google plus icon
Listen Everywhere

Symphony Space Live is now on Soundcloud so our programs can easily be played on any mobile device!

Having trouble listening in Safari? Here are instructions on how to play Soundcloud in Safari.

Follow Us

This project is funded by the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, through the generous support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

+ About the Performance
This program was recorded 05/21/2015 at Symphony Space.

New Orleans is widely known as the birthplace of jazz, but it's also where the cocktail was first invented. Join us for a special evening of music from Crescent City's own Henry Butler and classic New Orleans cocktails by Small Batch America, Hudson Whiskey, Cocktail & Sons, and St. George Absinthe Verte.

One of the premier exponents of the great New Orleans jazz and blues piano tradition, Henry Butler is a wizard at the ivories, his hands conjuring up a rich amalgam of jazz, Caribbean, classical, pop, blues, and R&B--a wholly original sound that's as excitingly eclectic as that of his birthplace.

Attendees are invited to sip a complimentary sazerac- the official cocktail of New Orleans- while taking in an informal pre-show presentation about NOLA's rich cocktail history set to a classic New Orleans soundtrack. 

+ About the Artists

Once you’ve heard what bluesman Henry Butler’s hands can create on those ivories, there’s no going back. Those hands boogie that keyboard like no one else’s. Throw in a classically trained voice aching us through the blues, and you’re someplace you have never been before and would give anything to return to, again and again. Considered the premier exponent of the great New Orleans jazz and blues piano tradition, Butler is a ten-time Pinetop Perkins (formerly W. C. Handy) Best Blues Instrumentalist Award nominee. A rich amalgam of jazz, Caribbean, classical, pop, blues, and R&B, his music is as excitingly eclectic as that of his New Orleans birthplace.

Blinded by glaucoma at birth, Butler has been playing the piano since he was six years old, and arranging, composing, and performing professionally since he was twelve. The New York Times described Butler as “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.”

Butler’s sound has been influenced by the streets (he grew up in the Calliope Projects in New Orleans, has traveled the world, lived on both coasts and in the heartland); by studying with the greats (Alvin Batiste, Sir Roland Hanna, Professor Longhair, and James Booker, among others); by institutions (Louisiana School for the Blind, Southern University, Baton Rouge, and Michigan State University); and by his willingness to explore new boundaries and to take risks.

To date, Butler has played almost every major club and festival in the United States, as well as venues in Brazil, France, Norway, Italy, Japan, Australia, and more. For over forty years, he has conducted workshops, clinics, and master classes throughout the country; he also developed a camp for blind and visually impaired teen musicians, the subject of a 2010 documentary, The Music’s Gonna Get You Through. The most recent of his many CDs is Viper’s Drag (with Butler, Bernstein & The Hot 9) on Impulse! It follows PiaNOLA Live, with works pulled from his rich archives, about all that survived Hurricane Katrina, which decimated his home and took his piano, Braille scores, and all his of recording equipment.

Whether it’s as a soloist or with his blues groups (Henry Butler and the Game Band, and Henry Butler and Jambalaya), his traditional jazz band (Papa Henry and the Steamin’ Syncopators), or the “vampy, bouncy, playful, and saucy” Butler, Bernstein & The Hot 9, you’re in for the ride of a lifetime.

Explore the Archive