Bett Butler

Short Stories

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Accompanying herself on piano, Texan Bette Butler has put together an album of her compositions running the range from gloom and misery to quite humorous, all touched with a bit of cynicism. Nonetheless, each tune tells a story that most regular folks can relate to. Stating that her style owes more to Billie Holiday and Bessie Smith than to Willie Nelson, the Texas country influence is noticeable throughout the album and is especially prominent on such cuts as "A Hundred Tears From Now" and "Do It Right." The twanging guitars of Tight Jeans McKinney and Gib Wharton help establish a country setting. The debt to Smith is apparent on "Down So Long," which oozes blues. In contrast, Butler is soft and moving as she relates a tale of what happens when you lose the childhood innocence that found its source in the power and mystery of "Angels." Junior Medina's drum shots are out of step with the spirit of this song, and are disconcerting. There's jazz on this album as well. The influence of Holiday comes through on "I Saw You on the Street Today," where Butler's special phrasing is helped along with the muted fl├╝gelhorn of Cecil Carter, making this track an album highlight. In addition to having a smattering of R&B in it, Butler startles the listener with a piano coda of a few bars from "Rhapsody in Blue" on "How Special Are the Few." Most of all, this session confirms Butler's uncommon compositional and performing ability to work successfully with diverse musical themes and within a variety of frameworks. Recommended.

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