In 2014, then 23-year-old Braxton Cook released the Sketch EP: a 30-minute debut featuring the kind of progressive acoustic jazz one might expect to hear from a recent Juilliard grad most recognized as the alto saxophonist in trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah’s band. The next year, however, he threw those expectations to the curb with Braxton Cook Meets Butcher Brown, a collaboration with the electrified funk-soul band from Richmond, Va.
“I knew that having gone to Juilliard and made Sketch, people would be expecting more of a straight-ahead modern album next,” Cook says. “I really wanted to make sure that I put out that Butcher Brown album to show my influences—my first loves are Hank Crawford and Grover Washington—and show the direction I’m going. It was kind of a strategic thing, where I’m going to play some modern stuff I like, and some of that groove stuff I like, and show off who I am.”