Russian jazz musician shares love of playing in NOLA, prepares to play in Sochi

Randi Rousseau,
WDSU News,
February 6, 2014

Igor Butman and his orchestra have played on a number of stages across the globe, but for this Russian musician, there's nothing like performing in the motherland of jazz music.

It's a good place to be a jazz musician. People really appreciate the jazz music and the great soul jazz has," said Butman.

This January marked Butman's first trip to the Crescent City. He not only was able to take in the sights and sounds of what New Orleans has to offer, he had the opportunity to play alongside fellow friends and jazz icons.

Butman was invited by the Marsalis family to participate in a special performance at The New Orleans Center for Created Arts dubbed, Kremlin Meets the Crescent City, a battle-of-the-bands-style concert.

"He was very generous to invite us and let us perform with his uptown Jazz orchestra," Butman said.

However, after their first number, it seemed as if Butman and his crew set the tone for the musical showdown.

"Not bad fellas, not bad," said Delfeayo Marsalis. "Well, we've go to bring out the wild card a little sooner than expected," Marsalis jokingly said while onstage with Butman asking the audience to put their hands together for pianist and jazz great Ellis Marsalis.

Butman says music of all genres tends to cross cultural barriers and needs no translation, connecting people from all backgrounds. He compares that to the impact the Olympics is having on the world right now. And as the world's greatest athletes converge on Butman's home country, giving their all for a winning performance, Butman is gearing up to do the same, preparing to perform following the opening ceremonies for listeners of all nationalities.

"We're performing on the seventh night, right after the opening ceremony. We're going to be performing for all the high officials like the presidents of all the different countries," said Butman.

In fact, Butman has played at every Olympics since 2004, and as an ambassador for Russia's Olympic Commitee, was responsible for helping Sochi secure this year's winter games.

"I was in Guatemala the moment Russia got the Olympic Games in Sochi. So I was there with a big Russian delegation," Butman said.

He even carried the Olympic torch this year, something that really struck a chord in this musician.

"I was really so touched, I was crying. I couldn't stop crying because I felt like I was an Olympic athlete."

Butman says it's now Russia's turn to take center stage, and hopes visitors feel as much as home in Sochi, as he did in New Orleans, because as for a few short weeks, the world is in unison, united with a common goal.