How to Bring Back the Noise

| January / February 2006

Pianist Henry Butler riffs on resurrecting New Orleans' music scene

If New Orleans-born pianist and vocalist Henry Butler isn't as widely known in music circles as some of his heavyweight peers, it's partly because he refuses to settle on, or for, any single musical mode. True to the passionate spirit of his eclectic home turf, Butler mixes classically trained sophistication and crackling improvisation with an earnest, street-level strut.

His varied discography includes several solo projects and session dates with jazz luminaries such as bassist Ron Carter and contemporary blues singer-guitarist Corey Harris. Yet regardless of the genre he's playing in, you can always hear nods -- some sidelong, some lovingly direct -- to the vibrant Crescent City giants who paved a way for his singular artistry.