WELCOME TO SMOOTH JAZZ NEW YORK, YOUR HOME FOR CONCERTS AND SMOOTH JAZZ CRUISES
Spirit Cruise Lines, Pier 61 at Chelsea Piers
July 29th, 6:30PM
July 29th, 9:30PM
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New York’s favorite summer jazz series continues with…
South African expatriate Jonathan Butler isn’t really a jazz artist, but his laid-back, slightly jazz-tinged approach to R&B/pop has earned the singer/guitarist/songwriter/producer a lot of supporters in the urban contemporary, adult contemporary, quiet storm, and smooth jazz/NAC markets. Butler has enjoyed a following since the late ’70s and he continues to tour and record in the 21st century. Born in Cape Town, South Africa, in October 1961, Butler was only a child when he started singing and playing acoustic guitar. Butler, who was the youngest of 12 children, absorbed a variety of music when he was a kid. He was an admirer of South African stars like singer Miriam Makeba, but he was also hip to the American soul and jazz artists who lived thousands of miles away in the United States. Stevie Wonder and George Benson became major influences.
Butler was just a teenager when British producer Clive Calder signed him to the London-based Jive Records in 1977; Introducing Jonathan Butler, his largely instrumental debut album, was released that year and employed Bob Cranshaw (who is best known for his long association with Sonny Rollins) on bass. At the time, Butler was often compared to Benson, a man who, like Butler, has been praised for both his singing and his guitar playing. It wasn’t long before the teenage Butler won a Sarie Award, which is the South African equivalent of an American Grammy or a Canadian Juno Award.
But Butler didn’t remain in South Africa much longer; in the early ‘80s, he escaped from apartheid and moved to England (where Jive’s main office was located, and where Butler remained for 17 years before moving to Los Angeles). Butler maintained a loyal following in the ‘80s and ’90s, not only in his native South Africa, but also, in the U.S. and Europe. One of his biggest releases came in 1987, when Jive released a self-titled album that contained a hit cover of the Staple Singers’ “If You’re Ready (Come With Me).” Butler’s next Jive album, 1988’s More Than Friends, was also a big seller; that CD gave us the major hits “Lies” (which was nominated for a Grammy) and “Sarah, Sarah.” Butler continued to record for Jive in the early ‘90s; then, in the late ’90s and early 2000s, he provided three albums for N-Coded Music: 1997’s Do You Love Me?, 1999’s Story of Life, and 2000’s The Source. After that, Butler left N-Coded and moved to Warner Bros., which released Surrender in June 2002. His most recent release, Brand New Day (2007), focuses his talent and voice on the world
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