"The Budos Band is an 11-piece funk soul instrumental combo from Staten Island that features drums, bass, guitar, electric organ, two trumpets, baritone saxophone, and a percussion section that employs bongos, congas, tambourine, guiro, clave, shekere, and cowbell. The band's sound oozes from a deep place where melodies constantly snake forward, honkers bleat over the top, and the beats move at itchy tempos to keep one energized. The instrumentation keeps driving onward and upward until it climaxes. Yes like all good funk music this disc can operate as the soundtrack for sex, but it's also much more. On the stereo by the bedside, the music serves one function. Listened to in a public space, the songs would compel one to dance. Heard over the headphones, the material changes the way in which one perceives the world.
It's the inverse of what funkmaster George Clinton used to say, "Free your mind and your ass will follow." Here it's "Shake your ass and your mind will follow", although The Budos Band doesn't put it into words. All of the songs here are instrumentals, although there are the sounds of people having a good time thrown into the mix. Some songs, like the carnivalesque "King Charles", contain snippets of people laughing and engaged in friendly mumbled conversations. The purpose of these samples is to create a fun atmosphere rather than convey a message. The listener's change of consciousness results from having a good time.
The catalyst for much of the pleasure occurs from the repetition of musical motifs that move to upbeat rhythms. Consider the six-minute "Monkey See, Monkey Do". It starts off with the bass, drums, and percussion swaying in a groove that starts in the forefront and percolates underneath with only slight variations. Then the two trumpets blare in and play their short staccato melodies over and over. Other instruments weave in and out, until about two thirds of the way through the tune a loud baritone sax steps forward. The sax solo is then mimicked by the trumpets, which then fade out and let the bass, drums and percussion take one to the finish.
The song's ending mirrors its beginning. Something has happened, but nothing has changed except in the mind of the listener. It's like having sex with one's longtime partner. The first caresses and kisses of the night begin the same way they have in the past. One repeats actions and behaviors one's partner has enjoyed in the past, maybe doing things a little differently to stimulate the other person, but not taking any radical new steps. The partner returns the favors in the same manner. The passion builds, breaks, and ebbs. Then one is back where one started, a little happier but not all that different from where one began.
The Budos Band's theme song, aptly titled "Budo's Theme", moves to the fastest rhythms and is the jazziest tune on the group's debut disc. The cut starts out at a rapid tempo. The percussion bounces and horns blare. The tempo never lags. One presumes from the track's showy pace and referential title that the combo uses this song to open when it performs live. The track resembles the classic intro pieces at traditional soul revues, but this cut doesn't come first on the disc. That honor belongs to the funky "Up From the South", the track with the catchiest melody. The strategy of sequencing "Up From the South" at the beginning must be to hook the listener into staying for more, the way one does with traditional pop albums.
Placing the second most conventional track next, "T.I.B.W.F." reinforces this idea. "T.I.B.W.F." relies on a solid bass beat and a sultry organ line to capture one's attention before the horns come in hot and heavy. The first two cuts are good, but seem derivative of other songs one's heard before (think Booker T and the MGs). The tracks that follow "Budo's Theme" seem more distinctive and original. Planning the arrangement of the material in this manner seems a reasonable tack to take. Seduce the listener with something catchy ("Up From the South"). Don't alienate him/her with anything too weird, but give him/her something that resembles other songs he/she enjoys ("T.I.B.W.F."). Show off your chops ("Budo's Theme") and then launch into what makes the band special. My guess is that the eight tracks that follow will win The Budos Band many fans among the aficionados of instrumental funk soul music.
The Budos Band is the quintessence of Staten Island Soul. Their exciting new afro-influenced take on instrumental music has been captivating listeners at gigs across the Tri-State area. Eleven pieces in all, their group consists of drums, bass, guitar, electric organ, two trumpets, baritone saxophone, and a percussion section employing bongos, congas, tambourine, guiro, clave, shekere and cowbell. Their music has been described as “compelling”, “unbridled”, “psychedelic”, “innovative”, and above all “soulful.” However, like many majestic things, their sound had humble beginnings.
The core of the band met as youths while all participating in an after school jazz ensemble at the Richmond Ave. Community Center, in Staten Island, New York. It wasn’t long before their common hunger for the rougher stripped down sounds of Soul Music brought them together for late night ferry rides into Manhattan, where they would sneak in the back door of the No Moore Club downtown to hear bands like Antibalas, the Sugarman Three, and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. It was there, in that basement hothouse packed with the only the hippest James Brown fanatics and Fela Kuti disciples, where the kernels of instrumental Afro-Soul were first sown into the fertile minds of these talented young men. Kernels which would later germinate and grow into the roots of their strong unique sound. After meeting resistance from the band director about the direction they were trying to take the music, they left the Community Center to form Los Barbudos, (spanish for “the bearded ones”) a name which was later trimmed to The BudosBand after one of the boys shaved. With the recruitment of a few horn players from the neighboring borough of Brooklyn, the band began to practice regularly, exploring the outer cosmic boundaries of afro-beat and soul music from the safety of their tiny concrete rehearsal space on Sand St. As they learned and grew together, their music matured, expanding and settling into a groove as deep and as broad as the Hudson Bay itself. By the time they had arranged a chance to play for a Daptone A&R man, their sound had hardened to a diamond. They were signed on the spot and scheduled to go into the studio immediately for a recording session where they would proceed to cut a full length album in the better part of three nights.
Their debut, self-titled album on Daptone Records is hard evidence of their eruption onto today’s Funk and Soul scene. The dramatic peels of brass and sax poured so liberally over sparsely orchestrated rhythm arrangements intone moods which are in one instant hopeful and sinister, urgent and nostalgic, buoyant and depthful beyond measure. The record opens with a lone prowling bass line that circles it’s listener four times before the fierce calculating rhythms of the drums and percussion join in. It is not, of course, until the barks and howls of the horns join the fray when we are able to hear the full spectrum of the band’s voice. The musicians claim the secret to their enormous sound is a selfless approach to rhythm: each man finding his own place and purpose in the greater landscape of the measure. However, any observant listener can hear that it is something far more simple and rare that elevates their sound beyond the sphere of cognitive reason and into that far greater realm of pure feeling: The Budos Band have Soul, on the inside. And it’s strong."
(STEVEN HOROWITZ, POPMATTERS)