Written by from WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center
In 1984, when a young Steven Bernstein first encountered the blind virtuoso New Orleans pianist and singer Henry Butler, he was astonished. “This is it,” he recalls thinking. “This is like the music that I always imagined. Everything you ever loved about music, all being in one place. But now it’s all coming from one person.” Nearly two decades later, Butler and Bernstein finally had the chance to collaborate when they were booked for a run together at New York’s Jazz Standard. It was an intriguing pairing: Bernstein, with his trumpet and arranging chops, and a wealth of downtown New York experience; Butler, with his deep well of knowledge and talent. They plotted a program of early blues and Butler originals, were invited to record for a major jazz label and continue to play residencies at Jazz Standard.
Jazz Night In America looks at how the collaboration took shape, and visits the club where it all began for a live performance in December 2014 by Butler, Bernstein and the Hot 9.