It can be argued whether the city of New Orleans did the rest of the country, and the world, its greatest favors by creating a relaxed and open lifestyle — freer of the racism of other cities — and giving us great pianists, great trumpeters or great food.
Of course, there doesn’t have to be a winner. All of those gifts are great. Let’s focus a bit on the great piano legacy. Three names that quickly come to mind are Jelly Roll Morton, Professor Longhair, Allen Toussaint, Dr. John and Champion Jack Dupree. There are many others, of course.
Another great who has not het gotten his due is Henry Butler. Butler, according to Pop Matters, began by releasing albums that were “straight-ahead jazz.” Later, Butler — who was blind from birth — began focusing on his hometown and its profound ivory legacy.
Bsince Street Records, Butler’s label, says that he has been nominated for the Pinetop Perkins (formerly W.C.Handy) Best Blues Instrumentalist Award 10 times. It counts his influences as jazz, Caribbean, classical, pop, blues and R&B. It is easy to assume that at least a few others snuck in their as well. Butler is very much alive and actively touring.
Above is “Shake What Your Mama Gave You,” with Butler accompanied by Correy Harris. Below is “L’espirit de James.”
Home page photo: Bull Rider