Patrick Butler was born in Monan, Indiana. The first sounds he heard were melodies to Celtic and bluegrass tunes picked out on banjo, guitar and mandolin by his father. Patrick’s family moved to New Brunswick, New Jersey while he was four years old. New Brunswick was an area unusually rich with jazz musicians. Joe Pass was born there; other residents included organist Charles Earland, Renaldo Jorge, trombonist with the Fania All-Stars, and alto saxophonist, James Spaulding. Patrick started playing guitar at age 13 and went on to record and play with many varied artists.
Harry Leahey, jazz guitar genius, lived in nearby South Plainfield, New Jersey; Patrick started studying with him at age 15. Leahey, nicknamed “Buddha of the Guitar,” was a member of The Phil Woods Quintet and was a student of Johnny Smith, the Master of Chordal Theory, and Dennis Sandole, whose most famous students included saxophonist John Coltrane and guitarist Pat Martino. Butler also spent a short, intense period of time playing and studying with James Spaulding, while Spaulding taught at Rutgers University.
After meeting funk drummer and impresario, Bill Curtis, he was invited to join The Fatback Band, a funk unit from Queens, New York. The first record he recorded with Fatback, Brite Lites/Big City, went gold. Butler spent the next several years touring extensively and recorded two more records while with Fatback, including XII, which included the track King Tim III, purportedly the first rap track ever released on a major label! During the Fatback years, Butler also studied with the Trinidadian jazz guitar player, Roland Prince, who was then living in Brooklyn.
Feeling the need for more creativity, upon the conclusion of touring with Fatback, Butler took two years “off” for a period of intensive composition. During this period, he composed a book called “Pentatonic Flights,” which used the pentatonic scale as the basis of the harmonic structure instead of the diatonic scale.
Moving to Los Angeles, Butler fronted the Los Angeles-based Celtic funk unit Superkeltic. He recorded with Stephen Perkins’ acid jazz jam band, Banyan, and appears on Mike Watt’s Ball Hog or Tug Boat. He was an annual attendee at Uli Jon Roth’s Sky Academy.
As a jazz composer and artist, Butler has released nine CDs featuring all original compositions. In addition to jazz guitar, Butler's CDs also feature Josh Harris on sax, Gil Torres on flute, Gabriel "Slam" Nobles on vibraphone, Ricky Williams on keyboard, Tom Salyers aka "Mr. Excitement" on keyboard, . The CDs are produced by Gary Bogdanoff.
Sonic Stew, Butler's latest CD release, charted in the Top 30 on the NACC Chart (Jul-17). For the compositions - "Stews" - in this series, Butler laid down chord structures, similar to a base broth in a stew. He then allowed the musicians to freely contribute musical ideas layering flavors into the tracks. The heads were composed after the ideas were "stirred and simmered." The second CD from these sessions - Sonic Stew 2 - will be released in 2018.
Butler plays jazz guitar with the MajicBulletTheory, a jazz funk band, out of Long Beach, CA.