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June 1998

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Henry Butler
Blues After Sunset
Black Top

Henry ButlerBlues After Sunset is the latest from New Orleans native Henry Butler. The album opens with "I’ve Got My Eyes on You," a driving tune that demonstrates Butler’s ferocious piano chops. From the first few bars, the influence of Butler’s hometown is evident. If there’s any doubt, it’s completely dispelled by the second tune, Professor Longhair’s "Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand." Fess’ influence is heard on several cuts, including the Fess-meets-Scott Joplin-for-a-beer-on-Jupiter "Butler’s Boogie." Other favorite cuts include the jazz gospel ballad "Blue Moments," "Bourbon Street Blues", and the slightly off-kilter "Tetherball."

Henry and Snooks jammingThough he does a fine job on vocals (not unexpected considering it was his major from high school through post-graduate studies --- check out "Death Has No Mercy"), piano is the focus. His rhythmic, aggressive style with jazz underpinnings and classical precision works perfectly on this album, his first all-blues album. It is impossible to sit still while listening to this stuff. The result is a "sophisticated" blues album, not in an intellectual sense, but in a stylistic sense, with elements from jazz, gospel, ragtime, and R & B thrown into the blues stew. Joining Butler are New Orleans favorite Snooks Eaglin on guitar and Mark "Kaz" Kazanoff on harmonica. Highly recommended for something different!

- Pat Toye

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