Album Review \\ Butcher Brown – ‘Live at Vagabond’

With influences including everyone from J Dilla and Herbie Hancock to Led Zeppelin, Butcher Brown combine a wide palette of musical inspiration into a groove-laden, genre-defying sound. Live at Vagabond, their second LP, captures the essence of Butcher Brown, building on the progressive sounds of ’60s and ’70s funk fusion and catapulting it into the realm of now.

One standout tune of the live record, played in the band’s hometown of Richmond, Virginia, is Cairo. The track showcases the plethora of talent and raw musicality within Butcher Brown. An infectious, MJ-esque hook is concocted by the rhythm section, and there is a fleeting homage to Herbie Hancock’s Chameleon. Later, DJ Harrison on keys and Marcus Tenney on trumpet float over the top and trade phrases, harking back to the cutting contests of bebop. This is exemplified during DJ Harrison’s solo, where he quotes and distorts Hot House, a tune popularised by beboppers Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie; proving that these musicians are just as well versed in the bebop language as they are in funk.

Their music looks forwards as well as backwards, though, and this is demonstrated in Lysol, which is characterised by ambient, angular trumpet lines, a fiery guitar solo, and broken-beat-influenced wonky drumbeats created by Corey Fonville, long-time Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah collaborator.

Live at Vagabond is a compelling, whirlwind fusion of funk, rock and jazz, and the live element of the album encapsulates the infectious energy they create during gigs. Butcher Brown have struck the perfect balance of technically complicated music that also implores you to dance.

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Harriet Davis | EZH Mag