Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

3

John Butcher: Bell Trove Spools

Eyal Hareuveni By

Sign in to view read count
British saxophonist John Butcher is one of the most innovative and influential saxophonists to emerge in recent decades. Butcher introduced a new conception of the saxophone—not just a horn instrument but a resonant metallic tube in which the properties of air moving through are investigated in relation to amplification devices as a microphone positioned inside the bell; using it as a device for controlling and modifying feedback; and in relation to the unique acoustic spaces in which he plays.

The first five solo improvisations of Bell Trove Spools feature Butcher playing tenor sax in front of an audience at the Richmond Hall, a Houston, Texas art gallery housing a permanent installation by minimalist sculptor Dan Flavin that has been compared to a bowling alley. Butcher begins his program with "A Place To Start," testing a whole spectrum of sounds within this space, using circular breathing, all with total and fluid command of the instrument. On "Padded Shadows" and "Willow Shiver" he turns the sax into an alien percussive instrument by using rapid blows and tapping the sax body.

The eleven minutes of "Perfume Screech" are magnificent. Butcher still experiments with sound, but manages to blend gentle, emotional melodies. He employs in this open-ended piece a wealth of sonic possibilities- subtle bird calls, playful tongue flaps on the mouthpiece, sheets of distorted sounds, but still balancing between the experimental and the accessible components. He concludes this program with the contemplative "Unspeakable Damage."

The other five short improvisations were recorded at the high-ceilinged marble room in Brooklyn, the new home to Issue Project Room, without an audience. Butcher plays on these thematic improvisations on soprano sax, taking advantage of the room's exceptional acoustics. The passionate "First Dart" plays with reverberating overtones unti it sounds like a sax choir. The "Second Dart" stresses delicate elements of space and silence, while he creates a lyrical texture of sounds that resonate within the room on "Third Dart." On "Fourth Dart," he uses circular breathing to produce a dense cycle of beautiful sounds. The concluding "Egg" returns to his experimental mode, playfully researching sonic breaths.

Butcher never binds himself to a distinct improvisational approach. All these improvisations and sonic explorations sound innocent, fresh and surprisingly engaging.


Track Listing: A Place To Start; Padded Shadows; Willow Shiver; Perfume Screech; Unspeakable Damage; First Dart; Second Dart; Third Dart; Fourth Dart; Egg.

Personnel: John Butcher: tenor saxophone (1-5), soprano saxophone (6-10).

Title: Bell Trove Spools | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Northern Spy


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Baby It's Cold Outside CD/LP/Track Review Baby It's Cold Outside
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Wrong Turns And Dead Ends CD/LP/Track Review Wrong Turns And Dead Ends
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Lavaman CD/LP/Track Review Lavaman
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Paimon: Book of Angels Volume 32 CD/LP/Track Review Paimon: Book of Angels Volume 32
by Don Phipps
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Bad Hombre CD/LP/Track Review Bad Hombre
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Aladdin's Dream CD/LP/Track Review Aladdin's Dream
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 12, 2017
Read "In The Green Castle" CD/LP/Track Review In The Green Castle
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 6, 2017
Read "Harlem" CD/LP/Track Review Harlem
by James Nadal
Published: August 18, 2017
Read "Crop Circles" CD/LP/Track Review Crop Circles
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 16, 2017
Read "Hide Ye Idols" CD/LP/Track Review Hide Ye Idols
by Troy Collins
Published: November 19, 2017
Read "Gateway" CD/LP/Track Review Gateway
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 25, 2017
Read "Parts Unknown" CD/LP/Track Review Parts Unknown
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 6, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!