Given the abundance of music Fela has inspired in the past two decades, of which there have been fair to middling imitations, it could be argued that the last thing the world needs is another Afrobeat update. Yet on this 4 track EP the American five-piece Butcher Brown sidesteps the pitfalls that have laid others low. They’ve managed to capture the melancholy as well as fire in Fela’s music without applying his template too rigidly.
Not every song has a shekere groove, or relentless layering of brass and reeds. There is a pleasing stealth and lightness of touch on ‘Tales From The Shrine’ and ‘Lagos’. On the other hand, ‘Cross River’ has a deep soulfulness that serves as a reminder that the band hails from Richmond, Virginia, which, after all, is D’Angelo country. An augmented horn section with a bass trombone and baritone saxophone lends some extra heft to a crackling electric sound that is well marshaled by composer-keys player DJ Harrison.
Butcher Brown, Afrokuti: A Tribute To Fela
Watch Butcher Brown – Live at Winter Jazz Festival 2015 on Qwest TV