FRANK BUTLER - The Stepper
Xanadu Master Edition 906064
Frank Butler ( drs ) Jack Montrose ( tnr ) Dolo Coker ( pno ) Monty Budwig ( bass )
Recorded Californie, 19 November 1977
Not many drummers become group leaders possibly because they are isolated at the back of the group, so this is Frank Butler’s debut as a leader. He Was born in Kansas City but played in a school band in a show which was sponsored by USO in Nebraska after which he returned to Kansas City and studied under the great drummer Jo Jones. He is immaculate timekeeper with a propulsive swing and has worked with many leading players including Art Pepper and Miles Davis.
The rest of the group a first rate musicians and make up a formidable combination. The tenor player in the group worked mainly on the West Coast and was a part of that scene he played with Jerry Gray, Art Pepper, Shorty Rogers and Mel Torme among others. With decline in the popularity of West Coast Jazz he was forced to work in strip clubs to maintain a musical career but in 1965 he moved to Nevada and worked in bands accompanying performers in Las Vegas and the area.
The opening track on the album, “The Stepper” is twenty minutes long and after the introduction of the theme and short solos from Jack Montrose and Dolo Coker the rest of the number is given over to an interminable drum feature which although technically very good will be of more interest to drum enthusiasts than the general listener.
Charlie Parker’s “Au Privave” is the trio only and after an interesting bass introduction Dolo Coker contributes a concise piano solo before Frank Butler come up with another short drum solo.
Dolo Coker’s composition “Captain Kidd” contains some driving Jack Montrose tenor backed by the surging bass playing of Monty Budwig followed by an inspired Dolo Cker piano solo which owes much to Bud Powell.
Jack Montrose comes up with a passionate rendering of the ballad “Easy Living” with Dolo Coker matching him all the way with his piano contribution.
The final track Dolo Coker’s original composition “Urbane” starts off with great promise with some fine Latin tinged tenor by Jack Montrose but after the initial promise of things to come lapses into another drum solo, but I suppose it is a drummer led group.
This was really a wasted opportunity, Frank Butler was a talented drummer and with an excellent personnel this could have been a worthwhile outing particularly as Jack Montrose as had little exposure after his initial success on the West Coast.
Reviewed by Roy Booth