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Editors’ Notes

Not only does Viper’s Drag pair trumpeter/arranger Steven Bernstein and New Orleans pianist Henry Butler as coleaders, it also rolls through the classic early-jazz songbooks of Fats Waller and Jelly Roll Morton. The duo are backed throughout by The Hot 9, which features the horns from Bernstein’s Millennial Territory Band alongside the rhythm tandem of bassist Reginald Veal and drummer Herlin Riley, who's played with Wynton Marsalis. A pianist who has the whole history of New Orleans music at his fingertips, Butler shines on “Give Me a Pigfoot” and gives a history lesson on the title track. Butler adds vocals to “Buddy Bolden’s Blues” and “Some Iko” and wrote “Henry’s Boogie” and “Dixie Walker.” For his part, Bernstein’s horn charts—big and brash, a little messy, and not afraid of some dissonance—are on par with his soundtrack work on Robert Altman’s Kansas City, particularly on cuts like “I Left My Baby” and a far-out version of “Wolverine Blues.” Far from fossils for moldy figs, this sweaty session transports old-time jazz into the new millennium.

Customer Reviews

A Bastion of Jazz

Butler and Bernstein truly demonstrate that they’re not simply keeping the flame of jazz alive, they’re reinvigorating it with daring arrangements that fuse the timeless with the surprising. Henry Butler’s piano playing is as always incredible, and backed by Bernstein’s solid command and the dynamic Hot 9, this is an instant classic for the ages (and a noble introduction for a younger generation).

Maestros on the prowl

Maybe the most significant recording of the 21st century. Harkening back to the birth of the last century, Butler and Bernstein combine to make amazing new music. Real tempos, real chops and a whole lot of soul.

Brings Back Memories

Close your eyes, lean back and listen with your heart, brings back memories of my time in New Orleans French Quarter listening to good jazz and sitting in Cafe Du Monde sipping cafe au lair and beignets.

Viper's Drag, Henry Butler & Steven Bernstein
View In iTunes
  • $7.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Ragtime, Dixieland
  • Released: May 19, 2014

Customer Ratings