All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

84

RED Trio + John Butcher: Empire

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
By inviting English saxophonist John Butcher to join them in a Lisbon studio, the Portuguese Red Trio executed a stroke of genius. Together they stretch pianist Bill Evans' democratic ethos to its logical conclusion: no-one leads, no-one follows, but paradoxically all four move as one, exploring timbre and mood across three collectively improvised cuts. The threesome's eponymous 2010 Clean Feed debut garnered many critical plaudits and the augmented follow-up looks destined to achieve the same result. Such collaborations are not a one-off: they have previously supplemented the trio's resources, having co-opted Americans trumpeter Nate Wooley and bass clarinetist Jason Stein in prior (unrecorded) meetings.

At the keyboard, Rodrigo Pinheiro accentuates the percussive characteristics of his instrument, avoiding tonal hegemony, often delving around the innards to dampen the resonance. While he sounds most conventional when the reedman isn't playing, even then his ringing arpeggios are likely to end unexpectedly in reiterated Morse code on muted strings.

Butcher demonstrates breathtaking control of unconventional tonalities, trading in carefully frazzled sax gymnastics and controlled multiphonics, at one memorable juncture simultaneously evoking voices just beyond the edge of comprehension and a buzzing didgeridoo. Bassist Hernani Faustino meshes with the kitchen-sink-and-all drums of Gabriel Ferrandini to create an engaging rhythmic latticework. But he also adopts oblique strategies, his hornlike arco work adding a ghostly wailing presence.

Butcher is totally absorbed into the idiosyncratic group conception. At the outset of "Pachyderm," it resembles a demented jazz quartet, with the Englishman's technique pushing his poised saxophone through a distorting prism, deconstructing the sound into constituent splintered shards and scratchy overtones. But in the quiet sections here and on the title track, extreme sensitivity characterizes the interaction. After an insistent passage of birdlike chirruping and whistles, the piece drifts into a dreamlike soundscape of scrapes, vibrations, drones and indeterminate noises, as if the instrumental sources are being distilled into their very essence. Pinheiro gets a piano interlude on "Empire" which sounds as if it is being played backwards, with sustained tones presaging a series of tumbling clipped notes. It's only towards the conclusion that the first melody on the disc emerges, but even here the saxophonist's lyrical musings are shot with overblown contortions. Wonderful music which shatters preconceptions.

Track Listing: Sustained; Pachyderm; Empire.

Personnel: Rodrigo Pinheiro: piano; Hernani Faustino: double bass; Gabriel Ferrandini: drums and percussion; John Butcher: tenor and soprano saxophones.

Title: Empire | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: NoBusiness Records

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Summer Skyshift

Summer Skyshift

Clean Feed Records
2016

buy
North And The Red Stream

North And The Red...

NoBusiness Records
2014

buy
Rebento

Rebento

NoBusiness Records
2013

buy
 

Stem

Continuum Records
2012

buy
Empire

Empire

NoBusiness Records
2012

buy
Empire

Empire

NoBusiness Records
2011

buy

Related Articles

Read Drift CD/LP/Track Review
Drift
by Paul Rauch
Published: July 18, 2018
Read Journey Moments CD/LP/Track Review
Journey Moments
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: July 18, 2018
Read Moku Maluhia - Peaceful Island CD/LP/Track Review
Moku Maluhia - Peaceful Island
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 18, 2018
Read Night Concert CD/LP/Track Review
Night Concert
by Chris Mosey
Published: July 18, 2018
Read Rumah Batu CD/LP/Track Review
Rumah Batu
by Ian Patterson
Published: July 17, 2018
Read The Bat Swings! CD/LP/Track Review
The Bat Swings!
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 17, 2018
Read "Gegenschein" CD/LP/Track Review Gegenschein
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 15, 2018
Read "Night Concert" CD/LP/Track Review Night Concert
by Chris Mosey
Published: July 12, 2018
Read "Sky Glow" CD/LP/Track Review Sky Glow
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: May 7, 2018
Read "Black Swan" CD/LP/Track Review Black Swan
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 17, 2018
Read "Circle of Chimes" CD/LP/Track Review Circle of Chimes
by Ian Patterson
Published: September 27, 2017
Read "Modern Lore" CD/LP/Track Review Modern Lore
by Doug Collette
Published: February 11, 2018