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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 grew up listening to mainstream '70s rock then ended up on the staff at the college paper at San Diego State, and volunteered to review heavy metal LPs. My second semester, the music editor dropped a Fenton Robinson LP on my desk, Night Flight. You like metal; they play guitar--he plays guitar, the editor told me
I grew up listening to mainstream '70s rock then ended up on the staff at the college paper at San Diego State, and volunteered to review heavy metal LPs. My second semester, the music editor dropped a Fenton Robinson LP on my desk, Night Flight. You like metal; they play guitar--he plays guitar, the editor told me. If we don't run a review, Alligator Records is going to stop servicing us.
Night Flight opened up a whole new world for me--the blues led me, inevitably, to Basie, who led to Duke, who led to Mingus, who led to Miles, who led to ...