Biography

     

Igor Butman, saxophone virtuoso, bandleader, club owner and television host, is Russia's number one jazz personality. Born in 1961 in Leningrad (now St.Petersburg), Igor Butman started playing the clarinet at the age of 11. In 1976 he entered the Rimsky-Korsakov College of Music, where during his second year he dropped the classical clarinet for the jazz saxophone. Besides being taught by the remarkable musician and brilliant teacher Gennady Goldstein, he took unofficial lessons from nightly broadcasts of jazz from 11: 15 p.m. to midnight on Voice of America.

In 1983, Igor Butman played in Oleg Lundstrem`s big band - the best one in the USSR. Next year he was invited by Nick Levinovsky to join the most well known jazz group "Allegro" and played with them for three years. In the Soviet Union, a country of over 300 million people, Igor was known as the best tenor saxophonist, placing first in the Soviet Critics' Polls and recording many albums for Melodiya.

After Igor Butman immigrated to America in 1987, he went on to major in Performance and Composition at Berklee College of Music in Massachusetts. By the time Igor arrived in the United States, he already had a "fan club" made up of some of America's most respected Jazz artists. While still in the U.S.S.R., Igor was invited to play with touring American musicians, including Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Gary Burton, Louis Bellson and Grover Washington Jr., who took Igor "under his wing". Igor appeared as Grover's special guest in concerts at Chautauqua, New York, the Berklee Center in Boston and at Great Woods Center in Mansfield, Massachusetts. Igor has performed as part of Grover's band several times, including at New York's Blue Note. He is featured on Grover Washington Jr.'s Columbia release Then & Now (1988) soloing on "Stolen Moments", "Stella By Starlight" and Igor's own composition "French Connections".

Igor's big sound and boyish exuberance have earned him standing ovations and many new fans, and his US solo career has moved straight ahead. He led his own group with Rachel Z. at Boston's leading Jazz club, The Regattabar, and has been featured soloist with the Billy Taylor Quartet, the Walter Davis Jr. Quartet and the Monty Alexander Quintet. He appeared on "The Today Show", "Good Morning America" and numerous other international programs.

Moving to New York in 1989, Butman worked with The Lionel Hampton Orchestra. In 1992, Igor recorded with actor/musician Michael Moriarty's Quintet the album Live at the Fat Tuesday`s on DRG Records. In Variety's review of this recording, it was noted that Igor, "Impressed with a round tone and deft ability at double time efforts and harmonized tightly".

In 1993, saw the release of his solo album Falling Out mostly with Igor's own composition, which featured no less than Eddie Gomez on bass, Lyle Mays on piano and Marvin "Smitty" Smith on drums and received good reviews in the most respectable jazz magazines. Next year Butman collaborated with Partners in Time, joined by Gary Burton, in the recording of their album Equinost (Intersound).

In 90`s Igor Butman performed at almost every major jazz festival, such as JVC Jazz Festival in New York, Boston Globe Jazz Festival in Boston, Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Idaho, Festival Internationale de Jazz de Montreal in Canada.

That year Igor Butman moved to Russia and during the following years he became " a jazz bridge between Moscow and New York", bringing to Russia and playing with Eddie Gomez, Lenny White, John Abercrombie, Joe Lock and many other musicians.

Especially pleasing to Igor's admirers was his new solo album Nostalgie which was recorded at RPM Studio in New York and released on Soyuz label in Russia in 1997 with Ira Gitler commenting that "Butman showed the fire and depth of his world-class improvisational talent". The Igor Butman's videoclip Nostalgie has reached the second position on Canadian TV channel Bravo!Canada.

Butman`s marvelous coalescence of soul, sound and technique drew praise from American President Bill Clinton, one time tenor man, at a state dinner hosted by Vladimir Putin at the Moscow Kremlin. Clinton stated, that Igor Butman is "may be the greatest living jazz saxophone player, who happens to be a Russian."

Игорь Бутман
БигБенд Игоря Бутмана
Игорь Бутман

Moving to New York in 1989, Butman worked with The Lionel Hampton Orchestra. In 1992, Igor recorded with actor/musician Michael Moriarty's Quintet the album Live at the Fat Tuesday`s on DRG Records. In Variety's review of this recording, it was noted that Igor, "Impressed with a round tone and deft ability at double time efforts and harmonized tightly".

In 1993, saw the release of his solo album Falling Out mostly with Igor's own composition, which featured no less than Eddie Gomez on bass, Lyle Mays on piano and Marvin "Smitty" Smith on drums and received good reviews in the most respectable jazz magazines. Next year Butman collaborated with Partners in Time, joined by Gary Burton, in the recording of their album Equinost (Intersound).

In 90`s Igor Butman performed at almost every major jazz festival, such as JVC Jazz Festival in New York, Boston Globe Jazz Festival in Boston, Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Idaho, Festival Internationale de Jazz de Montreal in Canada.

That year Igor Butman moved to Russia and during the following years he became " a jazz bridge between Moscow and New York", bringing to Russia and playing with Eddie Gomez, Lenny White, John Abercrombie, Joe Lock and many other musicians.

Especially pleasing to Igor's admirers was his new solo album Nostalgie which was recorded at RPM Studio in New York and released on Soyuz label in Russia in 1997 with Ira Gitler commenting that "Butman showed the fire and depth of his world-class improvisational talent". The Igor Butman's videoclip Nostalgie has reached the second position on Canadian TV channel Bravo!Canada.

Butman`s marvelous coalescence of soul, sound and technique drew praise from American President Bill Clinton, one time tenor man, at a state dinner hosted by Vladimir Putin at the Moscow Kremlin. Clinton stated, that Igor Butman is "may be the greatest living jazz saxophone player, who happens to be a Russian."

When Wynton Marsalis performed in Russia in 1998, he invited Butman to be a guest soloist with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Next year Marsalis was a featured guest with the Igor Butman Big Band at Le Club. On September 18 & 20, 2003 Jazz at Lincoln Center opened its 2003-04 season with a special collaboration between the renowned Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and the Igor Butman Big Band. Two big bands on one stage occasionally played at the same time, but more often passed the music back and force. In an interview with Jazz Times magazine, Marsalis said of Butman, "I love Igor's Butman playing and I love him personally. He has a great feeling for the music and for people and he's phenomenal musician. Igor Butman is my main man!" One of the Butman’s accomplishments as a producer is "The Triumph of Jazz", a tremendous festival which takes place annually in the biggest concert halls of Russia. Every time great program thrills audiences with the participants of the fest, among them: TAKE 6, Elvin Jones, Gary Burton, Gino Vanelli, Toots Thielemans, Larry Corryell, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Joey DeFrancesco etc. The latest festival took place at Svetlanovsky Hall of Moscow International Performing Arts Center and featured Ahmad Jamal Trio, Christian Scott Quintet, Igor Butman Big Band, Andrey Kondakov and Brazil All Stars.

Igor used to be an artistic director of a legendary Moscow jazz venue Le Club since its opening in 1998 till its closure in 2006. Le Club was included in Downbeat’s Top100 jazz venues of the world. At the club Igor appeared every Monday with his Big Band and presented the first time in Russia such outstanding musicians as Ray Brown, Wynton Marsalis. Kenny Garrett, Randy Brecker, Al di Meola, Billy Cobham, Take 6 and many others. In 2006 the jazzman set up a new club in Moscow - Igor Butman Club at Chistie Prudi, a legal successor of legendary Le Club, which has become city’s jazz epicenter. And in 2011 Igor Butman Club became a chain: Igor opened his second club at Sokol! In 2014 the clubs moved to different locations and became Igor Butman Clubs at Taganka and Mendeleevskaya.

In June 2003 Igor's solo album “Prophecy” was released by Universal Music Russia. The album’s presentation took place at Birdland jazz club in New York. “Prophecy” received an enthusiastic welcome by both Russian and US press. In April 2003, Igor Butman performed as a special guest with Ray Charles, George Benson and Al Jarreau bands.

In 2006 Igor Butman started recording his album “Magic Land” based on music from Soviet cartoons and movies featuring Chick Corea on piano, John Patitucci on bass, Randy Brecker on trumpet, Stefon Harris on vibraphone, and Jack DeJohnette on drums. At the beginning of December 2007 Sony BMG Russia released “Magic Land” in Russia and the USA. In the summer of 2008 the CD was released throughout the world. In April 2009 National Federation of Phonogram Producers awarded Igor Butman with a golden disk for selling more than 15 thousand copies of “Magic Land” in Russia!

In February 2009 Igor Butman Big Band teamed up with Yuri Bashmet, Moscow Soloists Chamber Orchestra and Igor Raykhelson and set out on a big US tour. The tour included sold out performances in Seattle (Symphony Hall), LA (Wilshire Theatre), San Francisco (Palace of Fine Arts), Cleveland (Severance Hall), Washington (Strathmore Hall), Boston (BSO Hall), New York (Avery Fisher Hall of Lincoln Center) and Chicago (Orchestra Hall of Symphony Center). The overall audience of all concerts totaled 20000 people.

In June 2009 Igor launched his own label called Butman Music. In the very beginning he marked the main goals for label to achieve: propaganda of Russian jazz music overseas and its integration in the world musical landscape. And he applied all his efforts to make it possible!

The headquarters of the company are situated in Moscow, and there's a company's US office in New York. That's why the albums are released simultaneously in Russia and the US and also become available at all significant online stores including iTunes, AmazonMP3, Napster and others. The company has already released nine albums, among them are "Sheherazade's Tales" by Igor Butman Orchestra (feat. Peter Bernstein, Sean Jones, James Burton and Kathy Jenkins), and “Vive L’Amour” by saxophonist Nick Vintskevich and his band (feat. Eve Cornelius, JD Walter and Kim Nazarian). Among the releases planned for 2012 by Butman Music are «Igor Butman and friends» recorded with Bill Evans, Michael Brecker, Carla Cook, and Kevin Mahogany, «Conciliation» by Ivan Farmakovsky, Jack Dejohnette, and Christian McBride, and reissue of «Nostalgia» by Igor Butman.

On October 27, 2011 Igor Butman’s 50th anniversary concert featuring Wynton Marsalis, Natalie Cole, Billy Cobham and Christian McBride took place at 6000-seated Kremlin Palace in Moscow, the biggest venue of the country, and became one of the most important events in the history of Russian jazz, according to mass media!

Igor has performed at every Olympic Games starting with Athens'2004 and he was among those who ensured Russian victory in running for the capital of Winter Games in 2014. Igor Butman runs international "AquaJazz" festival which is held annually in July in Sochi.

On October 28, 2011 Igor Butman was given a rank of People's Artist of Russian Federation for outstanding services to Russian music by the decree of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.