wrote and recorded at the House of Blues studios in Los Angeles for “Living My Dream,” which was released today by Artistry Music/Mack Avenue Records. Among the many facets of his songbook incorporating R&B, contemporary jazz and traces of his native South Africa is Butler’s storytelling ability. His pained journey inspires the real life tails on the 11-song set that he produced and recorded with a live band that features collaborations with the late great George Duke
Butler’s multihued music has always crossed genres and topped charts in multiple radio formats thus a pair of singles from “Living My Dream” are being highlighted for airplay. On the instrumental side, Butler’s celebratory South African walkabout “African Breeze” is already blowing up the charts and is poised to enter the top 10 this week on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Singles chart while the apologetic vocal paean “Heart and Soul” makes its initial plea for spins to urban adult contemporary programmers.
Finally arriving at a place in his life where he felt comfortable saying it, Butler, who grew up living under Apartheid and was the first black artist played on white radio stations in South Africa, embraced his blessings as the fulfillment of his dreams. Whether they are R&B vocal tunes or contemporary jazz instrumentals, the original compositions that comprise the new disc are meditations on love of family, country and spirit. Alternately playing nylon-string and electric guitars, Butler’s nimble fretwork poetically communicates while exploring beatific melodies in contemporary jazz settings that afford the artist ample room to improvise. He wrote the spiritually entitled “Be Still” with Duke and “Let There Be Light” with Miller, the latter graced with the delicate touch of Trotman’s saxophone. On the urban vocal numbers, Butler uses his soulful, life-worn voice to affirm his blessed life (“Living My Dream”), playfully pursue (“Song For You”), seduce (“Night To Remember”) and declare his love and loyalty to the women in his life: his wife and daughters (“All About Love”).
To support “Living My Dream,” Butler has U.S. concert dates booked now through the end of August as a co-headliner of the Love & Soul Tour during which he shares the stage with Grammy-winning guitarist-vocalist Norman Brown
. He will spend most of September back in South Africa leading his fourth annual Jonathan Butler on Safari. Butler will be interviewed and perform on the Tavis Smiley Show airing on PBS television stations in mid-July.
Below please find excerpts from some of the early album reviews:
“Living My Dream paints the very vivid picture of a man in absolute celebration of his life and music.” – The Smooth Jazz Ride
“Jonathan Butler's blend of South African music with smooth jazz, R&B and Gospel makes Living My Dream so unique.” – Smooth Jazz Daily
“The album opens with a strong, jaunty 'African Breeze' - the set's catchiest instrumental.” – Soul and Jazz and Funk
“Mr. Butler’s latest album is about celebrating one’s life as the strongest antidote in overcoming most of life’s obstacles.” – Hill Rag