If you purchased tickets to the 7pm JAS Cafe performance on Friday, July 14 featuring Butler Bernstein & the Hot 9, we encourage you to join us at 5:30pm for a pre-concert Listen Up! talk (included in all 7pm tickets). JAS Founder/President Jim Horowitz will be joined by trumpeter Steve Bernstein in an interview that will get inside the mind and heart of New Orleans musical heritage where jazz, blues and the diverse culture of NOLA meet.

Bernstein will be joined in his performance with the renowned New Orleans pianist Henry Butler. Butler’s music is as excitingly eclectic as that of his New Orleans birthplace, known for its piano players. Jelly Roll Morton, Isidore “Tuts” Washington, Fats Domino, Professor Longhair, James Booker, Allen Toussaint, Mac “Dr. John” Rebennack, Henry Butler—and those are just some of the best-known keyboard masters. All the great players have distinctive, individual styles, but there are traits they share, and that characterize the New Orleans sound. Deep roots in in the blues, gospel, and jazz, of course. But since New Orleans is a multicultural port city that has had a long association with Latin America and the Caribbean Sea, its pianists were exposed to, and have assimilated, idioms other than African-American. They’ll play syncopated bass lines derived from boogie-woogie, the blues, and stride. But they also incorporate rhythmic and melodic influences from Cuban rumba and habanera.

As they pump out bass patterns with the left hand, the right hand unfurls melodic flourishes and cascading rolls. That mixture produces a sound that is immediately recognizable as originating in the Crescent City—funky and driving, yet easy rolling and relaxed. Think of the second-line dancers following the band at a New Orleans parade or funeral procession: Everything they do is funky, but they do it with unhurried grace and style.