Inspired by the Sun – Butcher Brown on tour

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Butcher Brown identifies as a jazz quintet, but the inspirations or influences of this group extend to hip-hop, rhythm & blues, and cosmic-funk and rock; they are a healthy amalgamation of popular music, while distinctively steeped in the roots of 60s and 70s American jazz fusions. They are touring Europe this summer, suitably for festivals or hot nights in intimate jazz clubs.

Butcher Brown was founded in 2009, and since they are based in Richmond, Virgina, this makes them kind of outsiders from the start, but in a positive way. The members (still together since their founding) include Marcus Tenney (lead vocalist, trumpet and saxophone), DJ Harrison (keyboards), Morgan Burrs (guitar), Andrew Randazzo (bass), and Corey Fonville (percussion).

They are using the title of their most recent recording, “Solar Music” (Concord Jazz, 2023), to help understand or describe their synergetic approach to all of their recordings. Solar music is “drawing inspiration from everything under sun” using their own words to explain their sound.

“This Side of Sunshine” is their first single from “Solar Music” and it is a perfect summer beach holiday vibe, as a breezy or laid-back semi-instrumental with a groove; the refrain only comes at the end as a chorus, both praising and repeating their major influence “Sunshine” – while on this short and sweet track not only its refrain, but the melody recalls “Blackbird” by The Beatles.

Of their hip-hop influences, De La Soul stands out as among the most positive ones from the glorious 80s, or The Jazzhole, a lesser known, but influential merger of 1990s jazz and hip-hop. And in their apparel and overall attitude, they appear like a scruffy hip-hip or rock group, but in sound and spirit, they are a jazz unit, that feels free to take it “outside,” but not in the avant-garde meaning of the term, “outside” jazz. They take it out, instead to realms of cosmic funk and rock.

It should be fair to say that anyone who likes old school hip-hop and rock (and jazz) is sure to like Butcher Brown, but for those who prefer straight jazz only, this group is not for them. Keeping this in this mind, however, the most significant Black music artists of the 20th century were not contained in genres like jazz only, from Gil Scott-Heron, Miles Davis, or Jimi Hendrix. And these are the musical role models most guiding Butcher Brown, which is a notable path.

Their blend of jazz and hip-hop musically, also extends to the community that their music creates even if only for the moments of their live performances, one that encourages a carefree dance.

Butcher Brown performs in July at the European festivals or clubs listed below.

Friday, July 12—Roots & Jazz Festival, Copenhagen, Denmark
Saturday, July 13—BIRD, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Sunday, July 14—North Sea Jazz Festival, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Thursday, July 18—Cresent Jazz Festival, Macon, France
Sunday, July 21—L’Astrada, Jazz in Marciac, France
Tuesday, July 23—Jazz Dock, Prague, Czech Republic
Wednesday, July 24—Langnau Jazz Nights, Switzerland
Friday, July 25—Muzeum Lazienki Krolewskie, Warsaw, Poland

Tony Ozuna is Art Director and senior lecturer for the School of Journalism, Media & Visual Arts at Anglo-American University in Prague.

Last modified: July 8, 2024