172

John Butcher: Fixations (14) - Solo Saxophone 1997-2000

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
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.

Title: Fixations (14) - Solo Saxophone 1997-2000 | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Emanem


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Déjà Vu CD/LP/Track Review Déjà Vu
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts CD/LP/Track Review Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Two in a Box CD/LP/Track Review Two in a Box
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Discussions CD/LP/Track Review Discussions
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard CD/LP/Track Review Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio CD/LP/Track Review Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 19, 2017
Read "The Invariant" CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 17, 2017
Read "The Beast" CD/LP/Track Review The Beast
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 20, 2016
Read "Art in the Age of Automation" CD/LP/Track Review Art in the Age of Automation
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 21, 2017
Read "Shovel Down" CD/LP/Track Review Shovel Down
by Doug Collette
Published: December 18, 2016
Read "Backlog" CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: February 27, 2017
Read "Plays New Zealand" CD/LP/Track Review Plays New Zealand
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 21, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.