Igor Butman PAR is a jazz saxophonist born in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1961. He is considered to be a virtuoso saxophonist, and a skilled bandleader. American saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr. was instrumental in introducing Igor Butman to American audiences by featuring the Russian saxophonist on his 1988 album, Then and Now. American trumpet player Wynton Marsalis has also been a strong champion of Igor Butman.
Former US President Bill Clinton has called Butman "my favorite living saxophone player."
Igor Butman was born in Leningrad, USSR on October 27, 1961. His brother is Oleg Butman, a well known jazz drummer. In 1976 he entered the Rimsky-Korsakov College of Music. In 1977, he decided to switch from the classical clarinet to the jazz saxophone. Besides being taught by the remarkable musician and brilliant teacher Gennady Goldstein, he took unofficial lessons from nightly broadcasts of jazz from 11: 15 p.m. to midnight on Voice of America. In 1983, Butman played in Oleg Lundstrem`s big band. In 1984, he was invited by Nick Levinovsky to join the jazz group "Allegro" and played with them for three years. After Igor Butman immigrated to America in 1987, he went on to major in Performance and Composition at Berklee College of Music in Massachusetts. While still in the U.S.S.R., Igor was invited to play with touring American musicians, including Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Gary Burton, Louis Bellson and Grover Washington Jr.. Igor appeared as Grover's special guest in concerts at Chautauqua, New York, the Berklee Center in Boston and at Great Woods Center in Mansfield, Massachusetts. He is featured on Grover Washington Jr.'s Columbia release Then and Now (1988) soloing on "Stolen Moments", "Stella By Starlight" and Igor's own composition "French Connections".
In Boston Igor led his own group with Rachel Z. at Boston's leading Jazz club, The Regattabar, and has been featured soloist with the Billy Taylor Quartet, the Walter Davis Jr. Quartet and the Monty Alexander Quintet. He appeared on "The Today Show", "Good Morning America" and numerous other international programs.
Moving to New York in 1989, Butman worked with The Lionel Hampton Orchestra. In 1992, Igor recorded with actor/musician Michael Moriarty's Quintet the album Live at the Fat Tuesday's on DRG Records.
In 1993, saw the release of his solo album Falling Out mostly with Igor's own composition, which featured Eddie Gomez on bass, Lyle Mays on piano and Marvin "Smitty" Smith on drums. Next year Butman collaborated with Partners in Time, joined by Gary Burton, in the recording of their album Equinost (Intersound).
When Wynton Marsalis performed in Russia in 1998, he invited Butman to be a guest soloist with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Next year Marsalis was a featured guest with the Igor Butman Big Band at Le Club. On September 18 & 20, 2003 Jazz at Lincoln Center opened its 2003-04 season with a special collaboration between the renowned Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and the Igor Butman Big Band. Two big bands on one stage occasionally played at the same time, but more often passed the music back and force. In an interview with Jazz Times magazine, Marsalis said of Butman, "I love Igor's Butman playing and I love him personally. He has a great feeling for the music and for people and he's phenomenal musician. Igor Butman is my main man!"
One of the Butman's accomplishments as a producer is "The Triumph of Jazz", a tremendous festival which takes place annually in the biggest concert halls of Russia. Every time great program thrills audiences with the participants of the fest, among them: TAKE 6, Elvin Jones, Gary Burton, Gino Vanelli, Toots Thielemans, Larry Corryell, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Joey DeFrancesco etc. The latest festival took place at Svetlanovsky Hall of Moscow International Performing Arts Center and featured Ahmad Jamal Trio, Christian Scott Quintet, Igor Butman Big Band, Andrey Kondakov and Brazil All Stars.
Igor used to be an artistic director of a legendary Moscow jazz venue Le Club since its opening in 1998 till its closure in 2006. Le Club was included in Downbeat's Top100 jazz venues of the world. At the club Igor appeared every Monday with his Big Band and presented the first time in Russia such outstanding musicians as Ray Brown, Wynton Marsalis. Kenny Garrett, Randy Brecker, Al di Meola, Billy Cobham, Take 6 and many others. In 2006 the jazzman set up a new club in Moscow - Igor Butman Club at Chistie Prudi, a legal successor of legendary Le Club, which has become city's jazz epicenter. And in 2011 Igor Butman Club became a chain: Igor opened his second club at Sokol!
In June 2003 Igor's solo album "Prophecy" was released by Universal Music Russia. The album's presentation took place at Birdland jazz club in New York. "Prophecy" received an enthusiastic welcome by both Russian and US press. In April 2003, Igor Butman performed as a special guest with Ray Charles, George Benson and Al Jarreau bands.
In 2006 Igor Butman started recording his album "Magic Land" based on music from Soviet cartoons and movies featuring Chick Corea on piano, John Patitucci on bass, Randy Brecker on trumpet, Stefon Harris on vibraphone, and Jack DeJohnette on drums. At the beginning of December 2007 Sony BMG Russia released "Magic Land" in Russia and the USA. In the summer of 2008 the CD was released throughout the world. In April 2009 National Federation of Phonogram Producers awarded Igor Butman with a golden disk for selling more than 15 thousand copies of "Magic Land" in Russia!
In February 2009, the Igor Butman Big Band toured the United States with Yuri Bashmet, Moscow Soloists Chamber Orchestra and Igor Raykhelson. The tour included performances in Seattle (Symphony Hall), LA (Wilshire Theatre), San Francisco (Palace of Fine Arts), Cleveland (Severance Hall), Washington (Strathmore Hall), Boston (BSO Hall), New York (Avery Fisher Hall of Lincoln Center) and Chicago (Orchestra Hall of Symphony Center).
In June 2009 Igor launched his own label called Butman Music. In the very beginning he marked the main goals for label to achieve: propaganda of Russian jazz music overseas and its integration in the world musical landscape. The company has already released nine albums, among them are "Sheherazade's Tales" by Igor Butman Orchestra (feat. Peter Bernstein, Sean Jones, James Burton and Kathy Jenkins), and "Vive L'Amour" by saxophonist Nick Vintskevich and his band (feat. Eve Cornelius, JD Walter and Kim Nazarian). Among the releases planned for 2012-2013 by Butman Music are «Igor Butman and friends» recorded with Bill Evans, Michael Brecker, Carla Cook, and Kevin Mahogany, «Conciliation» by Ivan Farmakovsky, Jack Dejohnette, and Christian McBride, and reissue of «Nostalgia» by Igor Butman.
On October 27, 2011 Igor Butman's 50th anniversary concert featuring Wynton Marsalis, Natalie Cole, Billy Cobham and Christian McBride took place at 6000-seated Kremlin Palace in Moscow, the biggest venue of the country, and became one of the most important events in the history of Russian jazz, according to mass media!
Igor has performed at every Olympic Games starting with Athens'2004 and he was among those who ensured Russian victory in running for the capital of Winter Games in 2014. Igor Butman runs international "AquaJazz" festival which is held annually in July in Sochi.
On October 28, 2011 Igor Butman was given a rank of People's Artist of Russian Federation for outstanding services to Russian music by the decree of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.