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 ::: Corey and Henry :::

New Orleans has always been a hotbed of unabashed musical pleasure. From Louis Armstrong, King Oliver and Sidney Bechet to James Booker and Professor Longhair to the Funky Meters and the Wild Tchoupitoulas, the vital and timeless music born in New Orleans is known the world over. Two modern solo musicians with deep roots in the Crescent City - guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Corey Harris and pianist/vocalist/songwriter Henry Butler - add to the city’s musical legacy with their first duet album, vu-du menz, on Alligator Records. Featuring sometimes serious, sometimes rollicking, acoustic duets from these two exceptionally gifted artists, vu-du menz is a joyous celebration of deep South musical styles, as Harris and Butler combine forces to create a joyous album of pure Southern musical magic.

vu-du menz was recorded in four days in January 2000 at Dockside Studios in southwest Louisiana. Although separated by 20 years in age, Harris and Butler are of one musical mind, communicating almost telepathically throughout the album’s 15 songs (including 13 originals), which range in subject from timeless expressions of love to biting social commentary. The songs on vu-du menz range from straight-ahead blues (The Pipelayer) to ragtime (If You Let A Man Kick You Once…) to New Orleans funk (Voodoo Man) to jazz (L’Espirit de James) to gospel (Didn’t The Lord Deliver Daniel?). Harris’ supple guitar playing and husky vocals perfectly blend with Butler’s genre-defying piano playing and huge, soulful singing voice throughout each and every song on this tradition-based, forward-thinking album.

Over the course of his three Alligator releases, Corey Harris emerged as one of the most visionary and popular of the new generation of acoustic-based blues and roots performers. Harris’ third Alligator release, 1999’s, Greens From The Garden (with Butler guesting on two songs), spanned the musical landscape by melding reggae, ska, hip-hop, country, ragtime and Delta blues. And since exploding on the blues scene in 1995, Harris has appeared on CNN’s Showbiz Today, NPR’s Weekend Edition, Fresh Air, and World Café, as well as CBS Radio’s House Of Blues Radio Hour. Greens From The Garden received regular rotation airplay on 125 stations and made the charts at Gavin, Album Network, FMQB, and CMJ. The album also received rave reviews from Rolling Stone, Guitar Player, Request, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The London Times and many other national and regional publications. Harris has toured extensively on his own and supported artists such as The Dave Matthews Band, Natalie Merchant, Billy Bragg and, most recently Ben Harper. "An authentic voice and an eclectic vision," declared The San Francisco Bay Guardian.

Henry Butler, already a well-recorded and renowned jazz pianist, dove deep into the blues on 1998’s Blues After Sunset (Black Top), to prove himself the rightful heir of James Booker and Professor Longhair. Butler, like Harris, shares a love of all roots music styles, and never limits himself. Blues After Sunset, (his first all-vocal record) blended elements of blues, jazz and New Orleans funk into a mouth watering musical gumbo. Butler released Blues After Sunset after cutting instrumental jazz records for Atlantic Jazz, Impulse! and Windham Hill. His awe-inspiring chops and powerfully soulful voice won positive reviews in Jazz Times, Keyboard, Down Beat, Request, the Associated Press newswire, The Austin American-Statesman and The San Francisco Chronicle. The Chicago Tribune said Butler shows "tremendous expressive power…his command of the keyboard suggests the work of four incredibly gifted hands, not two."

Now, with vu-du menz, Corey Harris and Henry Butler add another remarkable chapter to their still-evolving success stories. The two will play festival dates together beginning in the spring of 2000, with a debut at the 2000 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. They’ll also appear on the cover of the April 2000 issue of Offbeat. Together or on their own, Harris and Butler represent the best the new generation of acoustic blues – and New Orleans music – has to offer. And with their broad vision and deep musical roots, there’s no question Harris and Butler will keep pushing the roots music envelope further, while satisfying hungry music fans for many years to come.

 

 
 
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