Released towards the end of 2021, the year of guitarist John Russell
's death, this recording dates from December 2010, a time before Russell was seriously ill and needed heart surgery. As such, this recording is very welcome as it recalls happier times. The album's five tracks, totalling about forty-one minutes, were recorded at the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra Festival III at the Glasgow Centre of Contemporary Arts.
As the YouTube footage below (filmed on 16th August 2010, by Helen Petts, during Russell's annual Fete Quaqua festival, at London's Vortex) shows, Russell, saxophonist John Butcher and bassist Dominic Lash had prior experience together as a threesome. In fact, Butcher and Russellboth born in 1954had first collaborated in the '80s, recording the album Conceits
(Acta, 1987) in a trio with Phil Durrant. The Fete Quaqua recording eloquently demonstrates that Russell, Butcher and Lash fitted together like the pieces of a jigsaw, their three strands complementing one another perfectly as if their performance had been pre-planned (which it wasn't, not at Fete Quaqua.)
Despite this album's five tracks (designated by Roman numerals) being separate, they effectively play continuously, without applause, announcements or chat between them. Consequently, there are no dramatic changes of mood or style between tracks, and together they feel like one integrated piece. As at Fete Quaqua, the three form a coherent entity which allows each of them time and space to express themself without losing sight of their bandmates' needs.
"What I can say is that, at heart, when I improvise all I'm trying to do is play with other people...I don't want to import one way of playing into every situation. I want each situation to bring something a little different out of me." (Butcher quoted in the book The Practice of Musical Improvisation
[Bloomsbury Academic, 2021] by Bertrand Denzler and Jean-Luc Guionnet.) If it were needed, this album is proof...
I; II; III; IV; V.