Legends of Acid Jazz: Billy Butler documents two interesting records made by the unfortunately neglected studio guitarist Billy Bulter (1924-91). The man who gave the groove to Bill Doggett's perennial juke-box classic "Honky Tonk" released four solo albums on Prestige between 1968 and 1970. This CD combines the first ( This is Billy Butler ) and the last ( Night Life ) of these.
Butler's mellifluous sound easily bends itself to the groove he's working: bop, blues, soul-jazz, R&B, pop or boogaloo. At this point in his career, while other guitarists were following Jimi Hendrix's lead and experimenting with feedback, Butler was perfecting a Hawaiian "slack-key" sound. The result is attention to Butler's gifts as an economical player; mixing single-line strategies with chordal passages in always-clever turns of phrase. Here, Butler is best when he boogaloos as he does so well on the dance-floor classic "The Twang Thing" and the sinewy slide of "The Soul Roll." Tenor man Houston Person is right on cue and erstwhile Ernie Hayes funks wisely on his synth-like organ solos. Other strengths, as was true throughout Butler's career, are the soul-jazz grooves of "Work Song," "Bass-ic Blues" and "Peacock Alley."
The remainder of the disc, and the bulk of the entire second set, is unfortunately given over to ballads. Here, Butler can't escape sounding like part of a slick, more-talented-than-this wedding band. But when the tempos fire up, so does Butler. And he's certainly worth knowing more about. But the dancers are gonna wanna get a hold of "The Twang Thang" and "The Soul Roll," the two acid-jazz staples and, really, the only acid-jazz here.
Tracks:The Twang Thing; Cherry; Work Song; The Soul Roll; She Is My Inspiration; Bass-ic Blues; Nightlife; Wave; Watch What Happens; Peacock Alley; Prelude to a Kiss; In A Mellow Tone.
Personnel: Billy Butler: guitar (bass on "Bass-ic Blues"); Houston Person, Jesse Powell: tenor sax; Ernie Hayes: piano, organ; Johnny "Hammond" Smith" organ; Bob Bushnell: electric bass; Rudy Collins, Jimmy Johnson: drums.
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.