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Steven Bernstein & the Hot 9
Manifesto Of Henryisms (Community Music, Vol. 3)


With Special Guests John Medeski & Arturo O’Farrill


Side A:
1. Black Bottom Stomp
2. Booker Time
3. Bogalusa Strut
4. (My Girl) Josephine

Side B:
5. Little Dipper / Dippermouth Blues
6. Xmen
7. Newport Aperitif / Diminuendo & Crescendo in Blue

SKU RPF 2202 Categories ,


Steven Bernstein first saw the late, great New Orleans pianist Henry Butler play in 1984.  “He was genius-level brilliant, man,” he says, still marveling. “I couldn’t believe there was a guy who could sound like the most ancient music and the most futuristic music at the same time.”  (Which is an apt description of Bernstein’s music too.)  Fourteen years later, Bernstein took Hal Willner’s recommendation and hired Butler to play in the touring band that played the score for Robert Altman’s film Kansas City. In 2013, the two musicians formed the Hot 9, the name a tip of the fedora to Louis Armstrong’s landmark Hot Five and Hot Seven sessions of the 1920s.  They released the acclaimed Viper’s Drag album the following year, and toured until Butler’s untimely passing in 2018.

‘Manifesto Of Henry-isms’ is Bernstein’s term for the rhythmic and harmonic idiosyncracies in Butler’s piano playing.  For his inventive arrangements, Bernstein isolated those “Henryisms” and distributed them to different musicians in the Hot 9, so now Butler’s style was emulated by an entire ten-piece band, effectively turning his piano into an orchestra.  To hear Bernstein’s Henry-istic arrangements in action, listen to Butler’s solo piano version of his James Booker tribute “Booker Time” (from 2002’s ‘Patchwork: A Tribute to James Booker’) and then hear Bernstein’s full-band version, and the way it demonstrates the lineage between Dixieland and funk.

While Butler is no longer here to play the arrangements that Bernstein wrote for him, his spirit remains deep in this music.  “I wanted to document these arrangements,” Bernstein says, “while we still had Henry’s feeling in our bodies.”  But, without Butler’s resounding musical presence, Bernstein urged the band to go its own way.  “We know what he taught us,” he says, “so let’s take that and make it ours.  We’re carrying it forward.”


Additional information


‘Community Music’ Complete 4-LP Vinyl Series, 180-Gram Black Vinyl

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