Duke Eatmon

Groove Innerviews

“Oscar Peterson, this is a local pianist, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of him”, joked Montreal pianist by way of East Orange, New Jersey when asked what sparked his interest in jazz. I was talking to local ivory tickler Taurey Butler about his new album One Of The Others, out now on Montreal imprint Justin Time Records. I wanted to go back to the origins of him becoming a jazz man.

The man in question was Barry Centanni. He introduced a teenaged Butler to the legendary Little Burgundy born jazz giant Peterson in his last year of high school via a CD.

“I was inspired because I had started with classical music when I was younger and I had done that for about seven years. I remember gettin’ in the car for my last classical lesson. I was almost in tears. I said, ‘Ma, I don’t want to do this anymore.’ I had put my time in. She was like, okay but I was still searching for things to do musically. I had played different instruments at the time. The band director (Centanni) who had given me that Oscar Peterson recording, knew I was searching for something. He was really supportive in helping me find that direction. He just said ‘here’ and opened the door. I had never heard the piano sound like that before.”

The Jersey native then found another connection to Montreal when he was asked to get involved in the city’s gig scene.

Butler said, “The short version is I was working with this incredible bass player out of Chicago named Eldee Young and we were in Bangkok for awhile and doing gigs over there and unfortunately he has passed away. I had already been going back and forth to Montreal just to experience the city because my biggest idol, Oscar Peterson was from here. After Eldee Young passed away, a gentleman from Montreal named Billy Georgette (the late Montreal pianist) who was tied to the House Of Jazz nightclub here in Montreal contacted me. He had come to me after we did the first show after Eldee Young passed away with a different bass player from Thailand. He came up to me and said; ‘I don’t know if you’re familiar with it, but I’m from a little town called Montreal.’ He said, it would be great if we could get you to come out there. So I called him up six months later because I felt it was time for me to move on to something else. We set up an appointment with the owner George Durst’s son-in-law. He said that we’d like to have you come in and play three nights a week. My answer was quick; I would love to do that!”

Butler has been a fixture on the local jazz scene ever since.

Besides playing with many of the local jazz luminaries, he managed to release his own self-titled debut album in 2011. When asked why he waited over ten years to put out his sophomore set, his answer was simple, “I just didn’t want to put out an album that I really couldn’t tell a story with”. The graduate of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire who has a degree in electrical engineering and Liberal Arts, told The Montrealer, “This one came to me very organically and it was easy. I had been thinking about it for awhile. It came together, It was really clear so that was a sign to do it now. I had the initial concept just before covid and I was excited. I was able to go even deeper with the musical concept during the covid lockdown.”

On One Of The Others, Taurey swings with some of his own originals like Swappin’ Lies and the title track as well as doing interesting things with The Beatles’ classic Can’t Buy Me Love and the Cole Porter standard What Is This Thing Called Love.

“That one, I had fun with the arrangement. Its not standard for a standard. It’s a Cole Porter tune. It’s definitely in the songbook of jazz standards but we took a different approach to it. It was a way for me to have fun!”

Taurey Butler’s latest album One Of The Others features his trio of Wali Muhammad on drums and Morgan Moore on bass. The album is out now on Justin Time Records.

Duke Eatmon’s music segments can be heard regularly on CBC Radio’s Let’s Go, hosted by Sabrina Marandola on 88.5 FM