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CD REVIEW

Henry Butler-Steven Bernstein and the Hot 9: Viper’s Drag

by Richard Gehr on August 11, 2014

From Sex Mob to the Millennial Territory Orchestra to his latest project, the word “rollicking” was arguably coined to describe the music of trumpeter-bandleader Steven Bernstein. On Henry Butler-Steven Bernstein and the Hot 9’s Viper’s Drag, Bernstein and Butler, the latest in a New Orleans piano lineage that extends back to Jelly Roll Morton, rediscover the futurism and sheer unadulterated fun in early-twentieth-century jazz alongside a wonderful ensemble drawn mainly from the MTO. Butler approaches the music of Morton (“Buddy Bolden’s Blues”), Fats Waller (the title track) and Bessie Smith (“Gimmie a Pig Foot”) with a traditionalist’s respect, an experimentalist’s gamble, and a virtuoso’s knack for making the keyboard sound like an extension of his nervous system.

Authors: Richard Gehr
Artist: Henry Butler-Steven Bernstein and the Hot 9
Album: Viper’s Drag
Label: Impulse

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