Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

HENRY BUTLER, STEVE BERNSTEIN AND THE HOT 9

VIPER'S DRAG

2014-09-28

Henry Butler plays piano, Steven Bernstein plays trumpet and The Hot 9 swings through this collection of early jazz and blues arranged with a modern flourish. The title track is a Fats Waller tune that showcases Butler's legendary prowess on piano and Bernstein's smoking horn tracks that defy you to sit still. That upbeat formula gets repeated on the classic Jelly Roll Morton tunes "Wolverine Blues" and "King Porter Stomp". Morton's other contribution is "Buddy Bolden's Blues" where the band puts the heat down on low simmer and Butler lays down his smooth vocals. Close your eyes and you can see dark night fading into the wee hours of the morning in New Orleans. Open your eyes and they will be full of tears as Butler cries out in anguish on the break up anthem, "I Left My Baby". Another oft covered classic, "Gimmie A Pigfoot", benefits from the mid-tempo, big band treatment afforded to it here. Butler's own "Dixie Walker", "Henry's Boogie" and "Some Iko" stand tall against these classic tunes. Butler, Bernstein and the Hot 9 (which was drawn mostly from the Millennial Territory Orchestra) are at the top of their game here and sound as if they are having a great time while cutting heads with not only great solos but tight as a drum ensemble work. If you even a tiny taste for 1920's era jazz or almost anything coming out of the New Orleans jazz scene this disc is for you. SMITTY

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