Henry Butler, Sharon Lewis | Buddy Guy's Legends | Blues, Gospel, and R&B | Chicago Reader

Henry Butler, Sharon Lewis Recommended Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Sat., June 20, 9:30 p.m. 2009

Henry Butler displays a daunting combination of technique, soulfulness, and eclecticism not seen in a New Orleans pianist since the heyday of James Booker—and even Booker himself might’ve been hard-pressed to incorporate ideas borrowed from post-60s free jazz, as Butler routinely does. On his latest CD, PiaNOLA Live (Basin Street), he turns in a take on Professor Longhair’s N’awlins classic “Tipitina” that progresses from a hymnlike introduction into a multitextured extended variation on the tune that simultaneously invokes and reimagines it; he treats Chris Kenner’s “Something You Got” to a similar renaissance, even inserting a reference to Monk’s “In Walked Bud” about two-thirds of the way through. And both “Orleans Inspiration,” a Butler original, and “North American Idiosyncracies,” an impressionistic fantasy written by the late New Orleans clarinetist Alvin Batiste, allow him to showcase the full depth and breadth of his virtuosity—which he does without ever succumbing to cheap-thrills pyrotechnics. Sharon Lewis opens; Matt Hendricks plays a free acoustic set at 6 PM. —David Whiteis

Price: $15

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