Henry Butler’s Stride Funk Style
In this lesson we will explore the piano style of Henry Butler. Henry Butler was a master of jazz and blues piano and in this lesson we will examine Henry’s unique “Stride Funk” approach to New Orleans Piano.
The “Stride Funk” Piano Style
“Stride” and “Funk” are two very different styles of music but Henry Butler devised a way to merge together these 2 styles into a unique solo piano style unlike anything that came before it.
We will use Henry Butler’s tune “Orleans Inspiration” to show how he seamlessly merged these styles to create “Stride Funk”.
Anticipations & Accents
Similar to the previous lessons on the styles of James Booker and Dr John, Henry Butler also anticipated the chord changes and added rhythmic accents to the up-beats to propel and drive the music forward.
One device that Henry used to great effect is double stops. This is where we have a melody line and a note held consistent above it. The held note works best when it is a chord tone such as 3, b3, 5, 6, or 7 and the melody line moves underneath.
Practice hands separately until you are comfortable with the bass lines walking up the chord tones alternating with 7th chord inversions to create the stride left hand.
Pay attention to the subtle left hand rhythmic variations. These syncopated bass line embellishments help to create the funk groove.
Take any chord tone and create blues scale double stops for the solo section. See chapter 5 of the lesson for melodic inspiration.