Butcher Brown

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Richmond, Virginia’s Butcher Brown are a proud throwback to the progressive jazz-funk bands of the 1970s with a 21st century twist. Their sound joins modern jazz to hip-hop, garage punk, and future funk. All Purpose Music appeared in 2014, and followed a year later by Grown Folk. That summer, they recorded The Healer, and issued it on Bandcamp in 2017; the Gearbox album, Live at Vagabond, also appeared. That label released the Camden Session EP in 2018, and AfroKuti: A Tribute to Fela EP a year later. Concord signed them for 2020′s #KingButch as well as 2022′s Butcher Brown Presents Triple Trey featuring Tennishu and R4ND4ZZO BIGB4ND. Written as a hip-hop record, it evolved during the recording process into an eclectic ode to big-band jazz. 2023′s Solar Music included guest spots by Keyon Harrold, Braxton Cook, Nappy Nina, Charlie Hunter, and others.
DJ Harrison (keys, producer, and engineer), Andrew Randazzo (bass), and Corey Fonville (drums) formed Butcher Brown in 2012, and gradually became a quartet with the addition of Marcus Tenney (reeds, brass, MC) and Morgan Burrs (guitar). The establishing trio centered around activity at Harrison’s analog Jellowstone Studios in Richmond. They began woodshedding and composing collectively, and their energetic jazz-funk/hip-hop jams made them the life of every party they played. Their debut long-player, All Purpose Music, was issued by Jellowstone via Ropeadope in 2014, followed by the self-released beat tape GrownFolk the following year.
Butcher Brown toured regionally, then nationally, as their reputation as an exciting live band spread among the independent music press and social media. The full-length self-released Virginia Noir followed in 2016, its critical notice — underscored by more touring — preceded the January 2017 Afrokuti: A Tribute to Fela EP, and The Healer in March. Thanks to hype generated by the internet and their active SoundCloud and Bandcamp pages, they got the attention of the Gearbox label, which released Live at Vagabond the same year, and played touring slots with Galactic and Kamasi Washington. In 2018, Gearbox released Butcher Brown’s Camden Session, cut direct-to-disc at Mark Ronson’s London studio. The band signed with the Universal-distributed Concord Jazz label, and in 2020 issued #KingButch. Tenney took the mike and shared it on one track with guest rapper Fly Anakin, while the instrumentals included updates of material written by and/or associated with Mtume and Ronnie Laws.
While working in his home studio during the pandemic, Tennishu (Marcus Tenney), the band’s emcee — who also contributes on saxophone and trumpet — began making beats for several Richmond area artists including Butcher Brown. His thought at the time was to craft them as a rhythmic base for a group hip hop album. During the recording process, Butcher Brown’s members began growing out these tracks by layering instrumentation, adding sophisticated arrangments and deep production. The end result was MC Butcher Brown Presents Triple Trey featuring Tennishu and R4ND4ZZO BIGB4ND, the group’s electro-futurist take on jazz big bands.
That integrational approach was consciously employed in the writing, arranging, production, and recording of 2023′s 17-track Solar Music. Though still rooted deeply in 21st century progressive jazz, they also wove hip hop, R&B, soul, funk and pop into their compositions. Underscoring a commitment to expanded creativity, they enlisted a star-studded cast of collaborators including instrumentalists Keyon Harrold, Charlie Hunter, and Braxton Cook; rappers Michael Millions, Nappy Nina, and Pink Siifu, as well as singers Vanisha Gould and Julia Shuren. ~ Thom Jurek & Andy Kellman