All Purpose Music
I’ve lived with this album for some time now – and it doesn’t slack off; it’s tight and lovely, a mix of sharp, crisp funk and slow-jam jazz. I first got to know Butcher Brown as the band that gave their sort of treatments on a Nicholas Payton album from last year. Payton was so chilled on that he barely picked up his horn – but it’s a cracker of an album, bringing to mind Headhunters and Foreplay and Grover Washington and the like. But always with just enough of that Headhunters/George Benson buzz so as to never seem too sleepy – and yet mostly very dreamy.
So it’s a similar sound-world here for All Purpose Music, a more jazz-oriented Roots if we found them in all-instrumental mode (as on their Dilla Joints mixtape). And the drums kettle by in that Mike Clark fashion, the late-night/all-night Fender Rhodes and samba-lite horns and keys glide and glisten and somehow Butcher Brown manages to make music that’s both the perfect score to waiting for a table somewhere very cool and there are get-you-up-and-dancing vibes too.
Little shards of fusion-guitar pierce certain tunes (Cairo sounds like Cobham or Alphonse Mouzon, and much of the music plays out on this album in that mid/late-70s style/sound). But just as you’re waiting for a lift Jon Bibbs guests on Faith and does a Donny Hathaway-by-way-of-John Legend turn at the mic and then Payton joins in with the gang for Jellowstone Room, and he certainly hasn’t forgotten his horn this time.
In fact, just as you’re drifting into nice-but-same territory the album kicks up its heels some. Blue Ridge is slinky-funk and Sundress is another sharp highlight. Highway One too, before the more chaotic Powhatan and Goin’ Home to close. Blisteringly good playing – and the dynamics, interplay are the real star, that whisper-to-a-scream version of funk; these guys are so, so good. And in nearly 80 minutes of music here they won’t ever bore you.