Patrick Butler’s Sonic Stew 2 is jazzy as hell, and its diverse use of sounds (which I will mention a lot) make it stand out from what many people would think of the “jazz fusion” genre. This is a very, what I would say, “spacey” type of jazz. When one thinks of jazz fusion, one may think of bands such as, King Crimson, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Snarky Puppy, and last but most certainly not least…Chicago!
Obviously, the last statement is a joke, but while Chicago is practically a jazz fusion band at heart with classic rock mainly being the category they fall under, Steely Dan is immediately the first band that would come to mind when one brings up the enigmatic, fun, complex compositions that jazz fusion brings to the table. Butler’s 11 track album is filled with interesting licks, progressions, and is produced in ways that will catch your attention. For example, the first track, “A Natural Stew” doesn’t have much, but it made me go “ooh!” anyway. I was greeted by a rather obtrusive, but pleasant bass filled A note accompanied by ambient chords. I also was surprised to hear the inclusion of a xylophone on this project. And of course, there is the occasional dancing around any scales the tracks are based around. I’d say, track 7 absolutely blew me away with the composition and mood it entailed. It includes soft rhythm guitar melodies provided by upright bass and (what I choose to believe), the inclusion of a theremin which drove me crazy with excitement! As expected, the zipping sounds of tenor saxophones are always a pleasure to hear as well, as they are a staple of what makes any type of jazz, jazz. The compositions of some of these tracks range from joyful, to somber, to sometimes ominous, or mysterious. For example, Track 10 “G Flat Stew” elicits a tone that I’d expect to hear from that of a James Bond film, or even old episodes of The Twilight Zone.
Butler has an ear for choosing how to construct interesting jazz fusion pieces, and Sonic Stew 2 is proof of this talent. Even if you’re not into jazz or progressive music in general, do yourself a favor and check this album out!