IGOR BUTMAN, BLUES FOR 4

Selwyn Harris,
Jazzwise,
July 2012

Experienced Russian tenor saxophonist Igor Butman arrived in America in 1987 having already gained a high reputation among top notch visiting jazz musicians to his Soviet Russian homeland, he was hired by Grover Washington Jr to tour and record in the late 1980s. Powers that be such as Wynton Marsalis invited him to play at the Lincoln Center and Bill Clinton cited him as his favourite saxophonist, giving Butman a certain level of jazz celebrity status. He returned to Russia in the late 1990s, and this recording comes from around that period, a mainstream post-bop set of the pianist Andrei Kondakov’s originals focusing on the blues form. The great Bill Evans double bassist Eddie Gomez and Return to Forever drummer Lenny White make up the formidable rhythm section and Butman has an immaculately polished tone on tenor especially, effortlessly fluent in a familiar neo-bop language. While it’s very much on the derivative side, the recording’s personnel nevertheless make this a worthwhile listen.