“When I went to school I had no idea you could pursue a professional career in performing. I was going as a Music Ed major and I was going to be a band teacher.”
Trombonist Mitch Butler, a native of Raleigh NC, has been balancing professional performance and music education at a very high level for 20 years. He received his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Music Performance from East Carolina University.
“That’s where I got serious about music partly because I had very good teachers, partly because a lot of my peers were really serious about music and there was a really good environment at that time to get serious about music, and the music I got serious about was Jazz….I’ve been fortunate to be around good people and good teachers and then as I got older, to be around other great musicians… It’s a very good community to be a part of, especially in North Carolina, it’s very nurturing…”
Later, Mitch earned his Doctor of Music Arts degree in Music Performance from the University of Texas at Austin. He is currently the Director of Jazz Studies and Assistant Professor of Music at California State University – East Bay in Hayward, California. He balances his work in higher education with regular performances in the Bay Area during the school year. His regular gigs include weekly sessions with organist Wil Blades, and performing with Marcus Shelby’s Big Band.
Though his focus for the last 7 years has been teaching and administration at the college level, next year Mitch plans to focus on performing full time and looks forward to teaching younger kids on an individual level. For those young musicians he stresses patience.
“Learning Jazz, there is no easy button at all, whatsoever.. Just be patient, listen to the advice of those that are around you, those that have been doing this….forget about the easy fix.”
On what audiences should take away about JJ Johnson’s music:
“There’s a great biography on JJ Johnson called The Musical World of JJ Johnson…It talks about his organizational sense and you can here it in his recordings, in his composition, you see it in the life that he led in music…JJ Inc is a great record for hearing how he puts things together, how he trades solos with drums…and then the Jay and Kai recordings with he and Kai Winding…”
Mitch Butler will be paying tribute to JJ Johnson, Friday August 21st at The JAZZ ROOM @ The Stage Door Theater.
Lastly, look forward to an album Mitch will be cutting next year.