Oleg Butman – a Russian jazz star and a clearly “ring-a-bell” name in the enormous jazz world of New York – is a positively-energized drummer, composer and a band leader. Born in St.Petersburg (Russia), Oleg Butman started playing the drums at the age of 8. After successfully graduating from Musorgsky College of Music in St.Petersburg, Oleg moved to Moscow to perform not only with Russian musicians, but also with such outstanding visiting U.S. stars as Ritchie Cole, Jon Faddis, Billy Taylor, Grover Washington, Jr., and Pat Metheny. At the age of 23, Oleg was already known as the U.S.S.R.’s best drummer, topping the Soviet Critics’ Poll and having recorded several albums with famous Russian jazz artists.
By the time Oleg arrived in the United States (1989,) he already had friends among the most respected U.S. jazz artists. While a student at Berklee College of Music, he was invited to play with Billy Taylor Quartet and Monty Alexander Quintet. His teachers at Berklee were Bob Moses and Tommy Campbell. Upon graduation, Oleg moved to New York, where he played with Joe Locke, Eddie Gomez, Andy LaVerne, Ron Affiff, and Sam Yahel.
In 1998, Oleg toured most of Russia with Four Brothers project which featured two Butman brothers – Oleg and his older brother, saxophonist Igor – and two Ivanov brothers, bassist Andrei and pianist Mikhail.) The sweepingly successful tour resulted in a new album, recorded under the same title. In 1999, Oleg toured the U.S. with his own quartet. Starting from 2001. Oleg visited Russia more and more often, performing with the famous pianist Larry Willis, guitarist Mark Whitfield, and sax player Vincent Herring. In 2007, Oleg recorded the album titled “KGB: Kramer, Goods, Butman,” after a long tour of Russia featuring Russian pianist Daniel Kramer and Richie Goods (U.S.) on bass. The tour was so successful that it was repeated in 2008.
In 2007, Oleg Butman started composing original contemporary jazz music in a tandem with a talented jazz piano player Natalia Smirnova and performing this music at jazz concerts and clubs all over Russia, USA and in Europe. Their project released the debut album, “Passion,” on Butman Music Records in 2009, and their subsequent tours featured American guest soloists such as Mark Gross (alto sax,) Wayne Escoffery (tenor sax,) and Essiet Essiet (bass). The duo celebrated the spring of 2012 with the sophomore release, “Runway,” which was recorded in August 2011 in New York at Systems Two studios. Oleg and Natalia gathered the pick of NY scene for the session: Donny MacCaslin, Mike Rodriguez, Leon “Foster” Thomas, Danton Boller and rapper Joshua Gahn added their incredible groove, licks and chops to the duo’s pieces. “We knew in advance what each of these amazing musicians could bring into our music. And that’s why we were so happy that all of them could join us in the right time and place,” says Oleg.
Oleg and Natalia’s third release for Butman Music Records, “Moment of Happiness,” featuring guitarist Mark Whitfield, bassist Darrell Hall, and saxophonist Mark Gross, is underway in 2017.
Since 2009, Oleg is endorsing Yamaha company in Russia.