Something for the People, the debut album from Steve Butler featuring Ron Haynes, is a funky, smooth and soulful/jazz tribute to the craftsmanship of classic R&B music. Influenced by artists such as Miles Davis, James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, and Earth, Wind and Fire, the duo wanted to produce an album that reached back to the roots of R&B and recalled a time when creating great music meant getting musicians together and capturing the magic that arises from the fusion of the individual expression and flavor of each artist.
“Ron would go into the booth and tell the engineer to record not really knowing what was going to come out of his horn, and we just captured some stuff,” Butler recalls of recording sessions in the studio.
Carefully constructed using a live horn section led by Haynes’ trumpet and the rhythms of Butler’s guitar, the mainly instrumental album is, like its creators, at once a study in contrasts, and a melding of classic and contemporary. Butler is a guitarist and producer from Chicago’s South Side whose credits include hip-hop production and performances for Grammy-nominated artist Skee-lo, Twista, Do or Die, major movie soundtracks, and scores of radio and television commercials. Haynes, a Grammy-nominated trumpeter from Chicago’s West Side, has a history that includes writing and backing artist such as George Duke, The Ohio Players, Ramsey Lewis, Lenny Kravitz and Liquid Soul.
With more than twenty years of age between them and careers that seem to flow in different directions, the unlikely duo of Butler and Haynes appear to have little in common. However, a closer look reveals that they share a passion for great music that has allowed them to not only draw on their differences creatively but also seek out new experiences. This willingness to experiment is the driving force behind Something for the People and has proven to be the magic behind the their successful 2004 collaboration “P-1 Groove,” an urban radio hit that blended hip-hop, soul and funk.
“I pushed him into some different directions that he had never been pushed in, and he in turn pushed me in some different directions too, as a player, and I think it’s been a learning process for the both of us,” recalls Butler.
The ten-track album, written, produced and arranged by the Chicago natives, has a nostalgic feel of ’70s R&B, including the syncopated rhythms from that era recognized as the hallmark of Chicago’s great Stepping culture.