Though saxophonist John Butcher is not short on instrumental prowess, his primary assets lie in the realm of ideas. On Fixations, Butcher has rejected conventional jazz thinking (swing, melodicism, harmonic cycles) in favor of creating his own personal language of improvisation. As Butcher puts it in the liner notes, "...improvisation can only make sense when it is somehow connected to the hope of finding, spontaneously, some music you don't really know about beforehand."
So the pursuit of a new musical vocabulary and style dominates each solo saxophone exploration on Fixations. Butcher is quite eager to take a simple idea and gradually build it through time and space until it acquires special meaning. His gentle exhalations at the start of "Third Bottle," for example, hover at the extreme lower end of audibility. However, they gradually acquire texture and body until the bubbling froth assumes tonal character, then progresses to a bird-like timbre, then oscillates into labyrinthian note flurries that defy conventional rules of order.
The other improvisations on Fixations reflect a similar inspiration and spirit, though they differ dramatically in organization and tone. Butcher's sound (especially on the soprano saxophone) tends to be deliberate, understated, and delicate. Though he makes plenty use of extended techniques on this record, you'll find no extroverted Aylerisms here. Fixations is improvised solo chamber music, carefully measured and explored with an ear for coherence and lyricism. In light of the great volcanic explosiveness of many of today's free improvisers, John Butcher offers a reminder that subtlety has an equally important role to play in improvisation.
Track Listing: Woodland Drift; First Bottle; Second Bottle; Third Bottle; Last Bottle; The Train and the Gate, part 1; The Train and the Gate, part 2; Robusta; Liberica; Almost New; Nearly Art; Sinking Down; Flag a Ride; Clarence.
Personnel: John Butcher: soprano and tenor saxophones.
I love jazz because it expresses things so deep that I can't transform in words.
I met John Pizzarelli.
The best show I ever attended was MASP in São Paulo Brazil.
The first jazz record I bought was a Baby Dodds CD.
My heroes on drums: Papa Jo Jones, Sid Catlett, Gene Krupa, Baby Dodds, Zutty Singleton, Ray Bauduc, Vernell Fournier,
Shelly Manne, Jimmy Cobb, Joe Morello, Daniel Humair, Kenny Clarke, Sonny Carr, Buddy Rich, Sam Woodyard, Cozy Cole,
Sonny Greer, Neil Peart, Carl Palmer, Tony Sbarbaro, Vic Berton, Edison Machado, Milton Banana, Rubens Barsotti.
My heroes in jazz: Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Chet Baker, Miles Davis, Ahmad Jamal, Coleman Hawkins, Teddy Wilson,
Barney Kessel, Lester Young, Johnny Hodges, Jelly Roll Morton.