Ruth Davies’ Blues Night featuring Henry
Charles McNeal, tenor saxophone; Henry Butler, piano/vocals; Bennett Paster, organ/keyboard; Danny Caron,
guitar; ; Ruth Davies, bass; Ndugu Chancler,
Tuesday, July 29 | 7:30 pm | Dinkelspiel Auditorium
Tickets: $28 general | $14 students
By phone: 650.725.ARTS (2787); In Person: Stanford
For more information, go to our Ticketing
“Henry Butler is arguably the greatest living
proponent of the classic New Orleans piano tradition, playing an amalgam
of boogie-woogie, jazz, blues, and classical in the lineage of Professor
Longhair, James Booker, Tuts Washington, Allen Toussaint and countless
other emperors of the ivories…” – CMJ
New Music Report
Ruth Davies’s annual Blues Night is always a highlight of the
Stanford Jazz Festival. Davies is a bassist with rock-solid blues and
jazz credentials, including performances with John Lee Hooker, Etta Jones,
Charles Brown, and Van Morrison. This year her special guest will be
New Orleans piano innovator Henry Butler, who seasons his blues with
an eclectic variety of influences. After learning to play several instruments
as a child at the Louisiana School for the Blind, Butler went on to study
classical voice, earning a master’s degree. He also immersed himself
in jazz and, with the encouragement of his mentor, clarinetist Alvin
Batiste, Brazilian and Caribbean music. His recorded output includes
everything from post-bop jazz piano trios to rocking electric blues,
though recently he has returned to his roots, channeling his various
influences into the blues of his native city. Called “the pride
of New Orleans” by none other than Dr. John and a “piano
genius” by All Music Guide, Butler released his first live recording
on the New-Orleans based independent label, Basin Street Records, in
April of this year.
Ruth Davies web site
Q&A with Ruth Davies
What is the first recording you remember hearing
as a child?
Beethoven’s “Pathetique” Piano Sonata #8.
Who is your favorite jazz musician under the age of 30?
What job would you have if you weren’t
a jazz musician?
A travel book writer.
What’s the strangest experience you’ve
ever had on the bandstand?
Playing in a camel cave at a caravansary in Baku Azerbaijan with
Toots Thielemans. (I can’t make something like that up! It was
What’s your favorite food?
Mostly Asian cuisine. Anything, as long as it’s not Englsh!
What’s the most exotic place you’ve
traveled to as a musician?
That would probably also be Azerbaijan, but Japan, Brazil and
Hong Kong are pretty close.
What’s the last book you’ve
Cormac McCarthy’s “The
If you could play with any other musician, living or dead
(with whom youhave not played), who would it be and why?
Brazilian singer Elis Regina (unfortunately no longer with
us). I just love listening to her phrasing.
What’s your favorite tune?
Whatever I’m listening to a lot this week.
What’s your favorite thing
about being a Stanford Jazz Workshop faculty member?
The kids faces at the end of Friday night.
What’s your favorite jazz venue?
In Europe, it’s L’inui in Luxembourg, and in the U.S. its
Bar in Minnesota. Both because of the people who run it and the
people who come to listen.
Who is your greatest musical influence?
My mom and my high school music teacher, Bob Soder.
If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have
three recordings with you, what would they be?
I just can’t choose, but among the possibilities would be Dori
Cayammi’s “Kicking Cans”, Ray Brown’s “Summerwind” and
Prokoffief’s “Romeo and Juliet”. If you ask me tomorrow,
it will be
How much do you practice each week?
It totally depends on what project (or projects) I’m working
what time is left over. Anywhere from hours a day to not too much.
What hobbies do you have?
Cooking, learning foreign languages (not too well, but quite a few
now) and traveling when possible.
If you could be any other type of artist other than a jazz musician,
what would you be and why?
Actor! I have to get it out somehow!
Do you have a favorite music-related
joke (that can be told in mixed company!)?
Too many, but here’s one that involves the bass: How does a marriage
counsler get couples to talk to each other? He invites a bass
player to come in and play a solo.
When did you become interested in music, and what circumstances
or events led to your becoming a professional musician?
My mother would practice classical piano after putting me to bed.
I couldn’t sleep unless she was playing and then, when I was
years old, she took me to the Berkeley Piano Club to hear Bonnie
Hampton play the cello and I was hooked! I became professional
when I was in college and people kept giving me gigs. I couldn’t
stop – it was like a drug. Now I don’t know how to do anything
else, so I guess I’ll keep at it until I can learn how to do
If you were to describe your music as a color, what color would it
be and why?
The color changes with every piece of music (as well as changing
within each piece of music).