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Henry Butler's last recording was a bit of an eclectic affair. The Game has Just Begun, Butler's debut on New Orleans? Basin Street Records, contained a gumbo of Southern music with a cover of "Riders on the Storm" to boot. Butler's new offering, Homeland, is a throwback almost to the Swing Era, judging by the disc?s opening piece, "Jump to the Music." "Jump" is the key operative. Butler?s piano on "Jump To the Music" recalls Jay McShann and a whole other musical period - the Swing Era. Or really, better yet, Louis Jordan and jump blues.
It is Butler's piano playing that is the centerpiece of this recording, and his instrumentals are the most engaging of the songs. "Henry's Boogie" simply rocks, as does "the Game Band Strut" and "OS7.0," though these latter two pieces are more complex than twelve simple bars. Vocally, Butler runs the gambit from lowdown ("Jump To The Music" and "Casino") to tender ("The Way We Loved" and "I Stand Accused"). Homeland is much more satisfying than The Game Has Just Begun. His band is tauter and more seasoned and his rhythms are sure and expansive.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.