Buttery’s Smooth Groove
Guy Buttery album cover. Photograph by Greg Lomas. Courtesy of Red Flag

To a different South Africa, to individualism and finding a new voice.

Much-admired musician Guy Buttery believes that his latest release Guy Buttery is perhaps a reflection of a new South Africa, one that embraces tradition but one that is also fascinated by the expression of the eccentric being; the maverick. This is apparent, as one glances upon the intriguing album cover, concealed by a photograph by Greg Lomas, of arbitrary yet warmly sentimental objects belonging to Buttery, such as an African mbira or kalimba, an old baby picture of his wife and a tress of hair from a dear friend who passed in 2006.

In an interview with Buttery, he mentioned that the idea behind the album cover was that it would be a collection of stories, and indeed it is. In the inner cover, Buttery shares the unconventional journey of each musician recording in a different location, some across the globe in their home in Modena, Italy and others in the effervescent farmlands of KwaZulu-Natal. This note to listeners is so off-the-cuff, using expressions such as ‘what-not’, ‘to make it sound less kak’ and ‘you did good my bra’, as if this gifted guitarist is sitting right in front of them.

In a small coastal town towards the north of Durban, Guy Buttery: the artist was born. In this mesmerising, fertile land, a mixture of genres inspired the budding musician. His many teachers, ranging from the local zulu tribesman known for their Maskanda music; the tabla and sitar players at the local Hindu temple and Ravi Shankar and other international musicians like Led Zeppelin and Bob Marley incited Buttery’s passion and contributed to his amalgamated music style.

Buttery's Smooth Groove
Guy Buttery. Image courtesy of Red Flag

The fervent musician also had formal teachers at institutions such as the KwaZulu-Natal Technikon and the Durban School of Music, where he reunited with his childhood piano teacher; Leandros Stavrou. Buttery’s innate way of creating music has earned him both national and international success, winning awards such as a Standard Bank Golden Ovation Award at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in 2010, being nominated for the South African Music Award for Best Newcomer in 2002; Best Instrumental Album in 2005 and savoring invitations to perform across the world.

On his latest album: Guy Buttery he collaborates with a multitude of like-minded artists who support this eclectic vision. Longtime friend, fellow musician and former teacher to Buttery, Nibs Van Der Spuy is one of many artists who feature on the album. After over a decade of recording together, the in-sync duo released In the shade of the wild fig (2012), an expression of their common passion for New Age music. Van Der Spuy, like Buttery has also been honoured with a Standard Bank Ovation Award and has been nominated for a South African Music Award for Best Instrumental Album.

Gareth Gale, jazz trained drummer and frequent Buttery collaborator plays an important role as the backbone and arranger of the album, says Buttery and keeps the rhythm, playing drums alongside Buttery on almost all of the tracks on the album. Both Gale and Buttery believe that any good collaboration requires respect and awareness for the other artist’s work. Both artists believe that a collaboration process is an amalgamation of different artists coming together to create a completely new creation. The pair has worked together for over a decade and continues to inspire and encourage each other through their affable working relationship.

Buttery's Smooth Groove
Guy Buttery. Image courtesy of Red Flag

Other featured artists on the album include:

  • Dan Patlansky;
  • Shane Cooper;
  • Derek Gripper;
  • Chris Letcher; and
  • Vusi Mahlasela, who Buttery mentioned working with was one of the highlights of his career.

French based artist Piers Faccini and GRAMMY award winner, Will Ackerman also make up this talented collective. Buttery proudly states that all the artists on the album are musicians who he truly admires and considers not only colleagues, but also good friends. His newest progeny being delicately crafted, with each artist seamlessly adding to the magic is truly an organic expression of the self and Buttery’s strong connection with nature during the creation of this work.

Listening to the album is such a soothing experience and each track drifts into one another so fluidly as if it is one generous and gratifying journey. Buttery’s sound stays naturally breaking the boundaries of conventional music genres and continues to inspire people all around the world with his distinctly African yet striking acoustics. This ingenious artist is truly an African gem and continues to exceed our wildest expectations of what the South African sound should entail.

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