John Butcher-Phil Durrant-John Russell: The Scenic Route
Jon Butcher (saxophones), Phil Durrant (violin) and John Russell (guitar) are a free-jazz or improvisational power trio of sorts. The Scenic Route is the latest from this daring and adventurous group as tracks 1-4 were recorded live in France and track 5 recorded live in London.
The opener, “Heavy Merge” commences as if three scientists were meticulously crafting an intricate Swiss watch. On this piece the musicians enact clever and cunning dialogue in workmanlike fashion. The delicate transformation of unusual sounds from common unaltered instruments seems astonishing. On “Belayed”, further evidence of how these gentlemen coalesce as a band is heard through unorthodox thematic development and off-center interplay which at times is odd and surreal. The liners indicate...”All instruments used without amplification or other electronics”. The tour-de-force is the 22-minute piece titled, “Climate Change”. Here, Russell and Durrant pluck their stringed instruments in mechanistic fashion utilizing all registers while churning out generous doses of harmonics. The feel is purposely tense or expresses uneasiness. John Butcher’s amazing Soprano & Tenor Sax work is the glue yet provides the contrast as Russell and Durrant offset Butcher’s often circular or in many instances abrupt phraseology.
The Scenic Route epitomizes the ceaseless creative spirit and artistic invention or perhaps “reinvention” of the British Free Jazz movement. Here, three proven masters of modern music take the listener on a mystical yet brisk expedition, complete with all the peaks and valleys. Highly Recommended! * * * *