Music News: New Orleans piano great Henry Butler dies at 69


Henry Butler performs in New Orleans in 2011.
Henry Butler performs in New Orleans in 2011. (Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

New Orleans piano great Henry Butler has died, after being diagnosed with colon cancer, at age 69. As the New York Times notes, Butler was part of the "distinctively New Orleans piano pantheon" that has also included the likes of Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Domino, and Allen Toussaint.

Butler commanded the syncopated power and splashy filigree of boogie-woogie and gospel and the rolling polyrhythms of Afro-Caribbean music. He could also summon the elegant delicacy of classical piano or hurtle toward the dissonances and atonal clusters of modern jazz. He could play in convincing vintage styles and sustain multileveled counterpoint, then demolish it all in a whirlwind of genre-smashing virtuosity.

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