Andrew Butt

Andrew Butt – Live at Bernies

Andrew Butt Trio + (1) to perform @ Bernie’s Jazz and Piano Café, Cairns, June 28.

Fresh from the Brisbane International Jazz Festival Andrew Butt returns to Cairns performing mostly standards from the Great American Song Book. This will be Andrew’s first performance at Bernie’s after spending two months immersed in the New York jazz scene being mentored by artists such as Bill McHenry and Branford Marsalis as part of a Churchill Fellowship. Andrew, who is originally from Cairns, will join up with local jazz stalwarts Tommy See Poy on piano, Harry Rivers on drums & vocals and Bernie Lee Long on bass.

I asked Andrew how he came to be involved with the local contingent of his band, to which he explained “When I was a kid in high school I took every opportunity to be immersed in the local Cairns jazz scene. When I was about 15, back in the late 70’s and early 80’s, I managed to find out where the local jams were including sessions at Les Medlick’s place at Edge Hill. At the time, I could only play about 3 tunes but I got to play these with local greats such as Paul Zammit, Wayne McIntosh, Junior See Poy, Tommy See Poy, Johnny Dunn, Wilma Reading and Bernie Lee Long (both junior & senior). Since leaving Cairns to study at the Conservatorium of Music I have returned every year and have continued to jam with these guys on and off. Unfortunately, over the years, several of these people have passed away. However, it is fortunate that Cairns has such a fantastic venue as Bernie’s where I can return and continue the jazz conversations I began as a teenager. “

Most recently Andrew Butt’s composition entitled The Alligator Escalator won jazz work of the year at the 2013 Queensland Music Awards. This was preceded with the award of a prestigious Churchill Fellowship to travel to Chicago, Seattle and New York to investigate jazz education, composition & performance. Andrew had this to say about the curiously named composition “About 10 years ago I took my young nephew shopping and he was really keen to go on the “Alligator”. I wasn’t real sure what he was on about however eventually realised he was talking about an escalator. I love the way kids experiment or misinterpret words – in a way, it is a lot like jazz. They are so creative before they are stifled by adulthood. When I composed the piece it had an ascending harmonic line and the title seemed perfect.”

Andrew recently was commissioned by Jazz Queensland with sponsorship support from the Queensland Government to create a new work that premiered at the 2014 Brisbane International Jazz Festival. He has led the Andrew Butt Trio + at venues across Queensland including the Brisbane Powerhouse, JMI Live, the Brisbane Jazz Club, and Bernie’s Jazz & Piano Cafe in Cairns and at multiple festivals including the Valley Jazz Festival and the Brisbane International Jazz Festival. Andrew has also performed as a sideman for many of Australia’s leading jazz artists including James Morrison, Emma Pask, Tom Burlinson, Dan Barnett, Rhonda Burchmore and David Campbell and has collaborated as a soloist in a variety of classical and contemporary ensembles including the Musica Antiqua Collegii Sinphonia. Other career highlights have included being featured as a jazz soloist with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and performing with John Riley, resident drummer from the Vanguard Orchestra based at the Village Vanguard Jazz Club in New York and also multi award winning vocalist Kristin Berardi as a member of The Enthusiastic Musicians Orchestra.

Andrew enthused about his recent few months spent immersed in the New York Jazz scene with some of the jazz greats “​I have travelled to New York several times and it is a melting pot for many things including jazz. It is so cool to go out every night and be immersed in the very best of your chosen walk in life. At times I had to pinch myself when I was hanging out with guys such as Branford Marsalis. The world is a big place but if you pursue your dreams anything is possible. If you would have told me when I was at Trinity Bay High School that I would have this journey ahead of me I would not have believed you. But when you do it and meet your idols you realise that, in spite of being insanely awesome, they are humble people with a great passion for music, just like you.”

Andrew holds qualifications in both Education and Music including a Masters Degree in performance and research. He has studied with and been mentored by a diverse range of saxophonists in Australia and the US including Tony Hobbs, George Garzone (@ Berklee College of Music), Chris Cheek, Bill McHenry and Branford Marsalis. Andrew has toured extensively as a performer, educator and director of ensembles throughout Australia and internationally to Indonesia, Fiji, New Zealand, China, Europe and North America.

Despite his globetrotting ways, Andrew is always keen to return to our tropical climes “Returning to Cairns is always great. I love the people, the environment and especially the weather in mid winter. I have travelled to lots of places in the world however Cairns is such a special place and it always feels like home. I am particularly looking forward to returning this time after having spent the Australian summer in the USA during a Polar Vortex. New York is an exciting city however, after 2 months of snow and freezing winds I was keen to get back to Australia.”

Todd Macalpine

Where: Bernie’s Jazz & Piano Café Cairns, 92 Abbott Street, Cairns

When: Saturday June 28 @ 7PM

Admission: FREE