Wall Street Journal 9/13/08
At a club called d.b.a., along a boisterous strip of Frenchmen Street, singer John Boutté regularly silences the Saturday-night tourist conversations. For the locals who press up close to the stage, these weekly gigs are cathartic ritual. In performance, Mr. Boutté moves like a flyweight boxer: hanging back, shifting his weight, thrusting forward without warning. Even on CD, he conveys that sense -- bouncing silkily along until he delivers a stinging high note or devastating flurry of melismata.
Born into a large and musical Creole family, Mr. Boutté has roots in gospel and traditional jazz. He frequently taps out syncopated beats on a tambourine. But he fits no convention. On "Good Neighbor," the sweetness and grit of his tenor voice is supported by an enviable list of New Orleans musicians. Trumpeter Leroy Jones, a frequent collaborator and local hero, adds subtle, pungent counterpoint to several tracks. "Foot of Canal Street" owes its revival-tent energy in part to the growls and purrs of brothers James and Troy Andrews on, respectively, trumpet and trombone. And when Mr. Boutté laments a loss of innocence on "Wake Up," the drama is unforced. Beneath his formidable musical talents lies a gift for elegantly telling the truth.
Singing His Heart Out for the City of New Orleans ..."there was both
authority and magnetism in his version of Steve Goodman’s
“City of New Orleans.” Mr. Boutté
recorded it several years ago with a bluegrass band called Uptown Okra,
and his arrangement with Mr. Duke preserves a similar rollicking feel." Nate Chinen, NY Times, June 8, 2007
Boutté is New Orleans' best-kept secret, and possibly its
Blumenfeld - Village Voice May 27,
New Orleans Brass
By John Swenson
"This collection differs from most Putumayo releases
in that there's something new on it, a terrific version of "I'll Fly
Away" sung beautifully by John Boutte and backed by an impressive band
playing collective improvisation with the true second line spirit. It's
a great track...."
THE 50 BEST LIVE CONCERTS OF 2006
Geoffrey Himes - Music Critic, Washington Post
Boutte at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (New
Orleans, LA, May 7)
2. Bruce Springsteen & the Seeger Sessions Band at the New
Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (New Orleans, LA, April 30)
3. Bill Frisell & the Unspeakable Orchestra at Lisner
Auditorium (Washington, DC, November 16)
4. Jon Dee Graham at the Hole in the Wall (Austin, TX, March 14)
5. The Drive-By Truckers at La Zona Rosa (Austin, TX, March 16)
2006 Top 10 Notable
Events Albums and Ideas
Chicago Sun Times - Mary Houlihan
Boutte at Schubas -- On a hot July night, the longtime New Orleans
singer made his Chicago debut. Backed by his friends in Cowboy Mouth,
he displayed his wonderful amalgam of styles -- from torchy jazz to
aching soul and African-American gospel. His altered version of Randy
Newman's "Louisiana 1927" brought down the house.
Stone Review of "Sing Me Back Home" June 2006
flood waters gradually ebbed, a handful of musical exiles gathered in
Austin, Texas, under the name the New Orleans Social Club to cope with
the calamity the only way they knew how..... including Ivan Neville's
indignant, funky version of Creedence's "Fortunate Son" and normally
ebullient jazzman John Boutte's wounded take on Annie Lennox's "Why."
Offbeat Magazine Jazzfest Review, May 2006
John Boutte's Jazz Tent set was every bit
as emotionally stirring as Springsteen's acclaimed performance. Backed
by trad jazz players such as trumpeter Leroy Jones and guitarist Todd
Duke, Boutte may have struck some as just another covers singer as he
tackled everything from "Basin Street Blues" to Annie Lennox's "Why".
But he had a way of leaning on certain lines with a gospel singer's
shout or a jazz singer's variation that wrenched the lyrics out of
their original context and gave them a whole new meaning. The greatest
song ever written about an American flood is Randy Newman's "Louisiana
1927", and it has been sung constantly since Katrina washed ashore. But
no one has ever sung it quite like Boutte did that afternoon. Where
Newman had sung it as a detached newspaper reader, Boutte sang it as an
involuntary participant ankle deep in water. After singing the original
lyrics straight through once, Boutte began to change them for his own
purposes, just as Springsteen had done with "How Can a Poor Man Stand
Such Times and Live".
Newmans lyrics about six feet of water in the
streets of Evangeline became 12 feet of water in the streets of the
Lower Ninth. Newmans lyrics about President Coolidge came down in a
railroad train with a fat man with a notebook in his hand became
President Bush came down in an aeroplane with 12 fat men with martinis
in their hands. The president said, "Fat men, ain't it a shame what the
river has done to this poor Creole's land"? Finally, Boutte's high
tenor rose to a feverish pitch and he cried, "Louisiana, they're trying
to wash us away", as if calling out to everyone in the tent who had
lived in the state last August. One by one members of the audience
spontaneously stood up from their folding chairs, raised their arms
above their head and sang along, "They're trying to wash us away". They
had earned the right to sing this song in the first person.GH
Times Picayune - May 9, 2006
soul singer John Boutte altered the lyrics of Randy Newman's "Louisiana
1927" at the WWOZ-BellSouth Jazz Tent. Instead of "six feet of water in
the streets of Evangeline," he mourned a flood that consumed the Lower
Nine. In Newman's original, President Coolidge comes down in a railroad
train to examine "this poor cracker's land."
sang, "Bush flew over in his airplane with twelve fat men with martinis
in their hand/Bush said, 'Fat man, great job . . . look what the river
has done to this poor Creole's land.' "
his set, a woman told Boutte that scores of people had fled the tent.
thought I had pissed somebody off, getting on my soapbox," Boutte said.
"But they were running out crying. They weren't just crying -- they
were heaving. They were leaving to get their composure."
expects such dramatic reactions.
don't carry them out," he said, "I didn't do my best."
Rolling Stone Feb 9 2006 / David Fricke
Picayune - May 7, 2006
fest-goers got entertainment, they also got heavy doses of emotion from
performers who, like their audiences, have been through a traumatic
eight months. In the Jazz Tent, John Boutté brought his
listeners to their feet when he sang his wrenching version of
"Louisiana 1927," reworked to describe Katrina's devastation, that
substituted "Lower 9" for "Evangeline" and closed with this plea:
"Don't let them wash us away." Laura Romano of Ventura, Calif., a
Jazzfest regular who had come with her mother, was in tears."I'm happy
and proud to be here," she said, "but it's painful. Everybody's happy
to be back, but it's so real in everybody's mind. They're talking about
where they were and reminiscing about people that didn't make it."
Daily News March 22, 2006
A shining example was the worldwide debut
concert appearance of the all-star collective the New Orleans Social
Club fittingly, at one of the festival's daily free outdoor shows along
the shores of Austin's Town Lake. The Social Club, whose eminent ranks include
pianist Henry Butler, organist Ivan Neville and Meter-men Leo
Nocentelli and George Porter, convened in an Austin recording studio
just weeks after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina to record the
just-released “Sing Me Back Home” a collection of
songs celebrating not only their hometown's heritage-filled music, but
also its indomitable spirit.
spirit was typified by one the Social Club's featured performers,
seventh-generation Creole New Orleanian John Boutte, a diminutive
singer with an outsized voice whose rendition of Annie Lennox's "Why"
filled the air with a fiery mix of pride and defiance. And it
was pointedly underscored by Cyril Neville in the group's stirring
versions of Curtis Mayfield's '60s-origined, yet (unfortunately)
still-applicable underclass anthem, "This Is My Country." Then again,
it's hard to consider New Orleans music without also thinking of its
strutting syncopation and raucous, rock prefiguring rhythm 'n' blues
and they were well represented, too.
Magazine - August 2001
are two inspirational songs, both duets, on LOUISiana ARMSTRONG: "St.
Louis Blues" by cornetist Kevin Clark and pianist Tom McDermott, and
"Sweet Lorraine" by vocalist John Boutte' and pianist Glenn Patscha...
John Boutte's brief (less than two-and-a-half minutes) rendition of
"Sweet Lorraine" simmers with the heat of an endless, infernal New
Orleans afternoon in August. Whereas many singers attempt to kill
listeners with their vocal cannons, Boutte' is happy to slightly pierce
their guts with his Swiss Army knife, evoking pleas for the fatal
thrust." - Bunny Matthews
"Mardi Gras man: The New Orleans vocalist
known for his work with ¡Cubanismo! sings A Change
Is Gonna Come in such a sweet, soulful croon,
you’ll swear it’s Sam Cooke himself gone gumbo."
"The gospel and jazz of
Boutté’s native New Orleans provide the
atmosphere, though his smoky, soulful tenor needs scant accompaniment."
voice is the star. On Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come,"
he testifies, "There've been times when I thought I could not last for
long/Now I know that I'm able to carry on," digging deeply into the
soul of the song, the city and himself."
"What would you get if Rene Hall had
produced a live Sam Cooke album ... and what if he arranged to have
Allen Toussaint to play the piano on the show? This new Boutte CD may
be a glimpse into the concept"
New Orleans Music Hot File --
"This is sophisticated jazz singing backed
by a deft and empathetic quartet playing confidently, with relaxed
swing Boutté emotes with yearning and passion, taking
melodic leaps with easy grace touches base with his biggest influence,
Sam Cooke, with "A Change Is Gonna Come."
Review by New Orleans
Songwriter Eddie Tebbe