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Billy Butterfield Joins Andy Bartha: Take Me to the Land of Jazz

Billy Butterfield, one of the great jazz trumpeters, is seldom mentioned these days, so this 1970s appearance with a Florida traditional band is a welcome reminder of his brilliance. He had unforgettable solos on recordings of “Stardust” with Artie Shaw, “I’m Free (What’s New?)” with Bob Crosby and with Eddie Condon a gorgeous half-chorus following Jack Teagarden on “When Your Lover Has Gone.” He did sterling work with Shaw’s Gramercy Five and with the World’s Greatest Jazz Band.

Butterfield’s glorious tone and fluidity, including his trademark octave slurs, were intact on this date nearly two decades before his death in 1988. Since Andy Bartha is also a trumpeter and they often trade phrases, it would have been helpful for the producers to provide a play-by-play guide. Still, anyone familiar with Butterfield’s playing will have slight difficulty distinguishing between the two. The setting is a good Dixieland band (term used advisedly) with splendid trombone work by Ed Hubble and harmonically resourceful bass saxophone solos by the severely underrated John Dengler. Aside from the warhorse repertoire, the only downside is relentless four-to-the-bar bass drumming that all but wipes out the bass player. Butterfield’s fine moments make it easier to ignore that irritation.

Originally Published