Johnny Butler is Brooklyn-based saxophonist, composer, producer, and recording artist who embraces all styles of music, from jazz to hip-hop, funk to avant-garde. As a saxophonist, Johnny was an original member of Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds, with whom he toured nationally from 2009 to 2013, recording two albums for Modern Vintage Recordings, Pound of Dirt (released 2012) and Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds (2010). He helped write and record the tenor and baritone saxophone parts on Beyonce‘s album 4, and has performed with Stevie Wonder, Donald Fagen, Warren Hayes, The Levon Helm Band, tUnE-yArDs, Joe Lally (of Fugazi), Strangefolk, La La Brooks of Phil Spector’s Crystals, and The Skeletons Big Band.
As a composer and bandleader, Johnny has garnered great praise in Downbeat, All About Jazz, Time Out NY, Earshot Jazz Magazine, and others for his original work, which frequently incorporates laptops and electronics into his signature sound, showcased on his solo albums Carousel (2011), Solo (2010), and with his band Scurvy on Fracure (2009 Hi4Head Records):
On any street corner or venue it’s possible to hear a musician playing solo saxophone, its reed-song beckoning down thoroughfares to anyone that will listen. But by putting a spin on things, it’s quite another matter to hear and see that horn wired into a laptop computer, as it provides multiphonic voices and looped patterns, fed back into music that is familiar yet ethereal. Enter saxophonist Johnny Butler…the instrument is navigated through multiple threads and simultaneous accompaniment and solo parts. Butler takes advantage of these concepts via hardware and software to examine new contours, shapes and textures through his saxophone; to become a veritable one-man saxophone ensemble, weaving multiple horn patterns that coalesce and separate in real time without the use of overdubs or post-recording manipulation.
— All About Jazz
After dabbling with resonances from John Coltrane and Miles Davis and enveloping his processed saxophone sound in cavernous reverb, Brooklyn-based Johnny Butler turns a polyphony of overdubbed horns (triggered by laptop) into Fritz Lang’s Metropolis machine on Solo.
— DownBeat Magazine
Johnny graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music with a BM in Jazz Studies and Performance with an emphasis in classical composition, studying with Gary Bartz, Robin Eubanks, Billy Hart, and classical composers Randolph Coleman and Lewis Neilson and continued his studies with Connie Cruthers, Vijay Iyer, and Todd Reynolds.