Igor Butman, saxophone virtuoso, bandleader, club owner and television host, is Russia's number one jazz personality. Born in 1961 in Leningrad (now St.Petersburg), Igor Butman started playing the clarinet at the age of 11. In 1976 he entered the Rimsky-Korsakov College of Music, where during his second year he dropped the classical clarinet for 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, Igor Butman played in Oleg Lundstrem`s big band - the best one in the USSR. Next year he was invited by Nick Levinovsky to join the most well known jazz group "Allegro" and played with them for three years. In the Soviet Union, a country of over 300 million people, Igor was known as the best tenor saxophonist, placing first in the Soviet Critics' Polls and recording many albums for Melodiya.
After Igor Butman immigrated to America in 1987, he went on to major in Performance and Composition at Berklee College of Music in Massachusetts. By the time Igor arrived in the United States, he already had a "fan club" made up of some of America's most respected Jazz artists. 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., who took Igor "under his wing". 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. Igor has performed as part of Grover's band several times, including at New York's Blue Note. He is featured on Grover Washington Jr.'s Columbia release Then & Now (1988) soloing on "Stolen Moments", "Stella By Starlight" and Igor's own composition "French Connections".
Igor's big sound and boyish exuberance have earned him standing ovations and many new fans, and his US solo career has moved straight ahead. He 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 Variety's review of this recording, it was noted that Igor, "Impressed with a round tone and deft ability at double time efforts and harmonized tightly".
In 1993, saw the release of his solo album Falling Out mostly with Igor's own composition, which featured no less than Eddie Gomez on bass, Lyle Mays on piano and Marvin "Smitty" Smith on drums and received good reviews in the most respectable jazz magazines. Next year Butman collaborated with Partners in Time, joined by Gary Burton, in the recording of their album Equinost (Intersound).
In 90`s Igor Butman performed at almost every major jazz festival, such as JVC Jazz Festival in New York, Boston Globe Jazz Festival in Boston, Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Idaho, Festival Internationale de Jazz de Montreal in Canada.
That year Igor Butman moved to Russia and during the following years he became " a jazz bridge between Moscow and New York", bringing to Russia and playing with Eddie Gomez, Lenny White, John Abercrombie, Joe Lock and many other musicians.
Especially pleasing to Igor's admirers was his new solo album Nostalgie which was recorded at RPM Studio in New York and released on Soyuz label in Russia in 1997 with Ira Gitler commenting that "Butman showed the fire and depth of his world-class improvisational talent". The Igor Butman's videoclip Nostalgie has reached the second position on Canadian TV channel Bravo!Canada.
Butman`s marvelous coalescence of soul, sound and technique drew praise from American President Bill Clinton, one time tenor man, at a state dinner hosted by Vladimir Putin at the Moscow Kremlin. Clinton stated, that Igor Butman is "may be the greatest living jazz saxophone player, who happens to be a Russian."