All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

312

John Butcher / Phil Durrant / Paul Lovens / Radu Malfattii / John Russell: News From The Shed

John Eyles By

Sign in to view read count
This welcome CD reissue of the original News From The Shed (released on vinyl on John Butcher's Acta label in 1989) features four previously unissued tracks. Long regarded as one of the finest examples of group free improvisation, the album's reputation has grown steadily. The quintet grew out of the existing trio of Butcher, Durrant and Russell. When Malfatti and Lovens joined them as guests for a short UK tour, it was soon clear that this was not a trio-plus-guests but a group; News From The Shed continued playing gigs until 1994.

It is particularly interesting to reassess this music in the light of developments in improvised music in the years since its first release. We can clearly hear roots of the variant strains of improv variously known as eai (electro-acoustic improvisation), lowercase, New London Silence, onkyo, Berlin reductionism, etc. Although there has been much cross-fertilisation and blurring of boundaries between these strains, their common characteristics include use of electronics, silences, very low volumes and small gestures, plus a lack of focus on individual virtuosity. As Butcher, Durrant and Malfatti have all had significant roles in these new developments, it is no surprise to hear roots here. (Indeed, Emanem proprietor Martin Davidson has stressed roots stretching back to the '70s work of John Stevens, Trevor Watts and Paul Rutherford; those variant strains came about through evolution, not revolution.)

There is plenty here that will be familiar territory to aficionados of improv; the cut and thrust of sections of "Kickshaws" or "Sticks and Stones" employ the methodology whereby any musical utterance requires a rapid response, leading to that familiar feeling of animated chatter. In contrast, tracks such as "Everything Stops For Tea" and "Reading The River" are far more sparse, with every gesture seemingly well-considered and laden with significance. Meanwhile, "Whisstrionics" lies somewhere in between, busy but quietly so.

The four unissued tracks that have been added fit seamlessly with the original ten. All four are noticeably spare. "Coracle" is so low-key it could be a product of New London Silence; the players create an atmosphere of tension that draws listeners in and keeps them in a state of heightened expectation. The result is thrilling listening.

Tellingly, Butcher says that the original tape of the album had to be remastered, as the quiet work was lost in the noise of the vinyl test pressing. Digital technology no longer makes that (such) a problem; today, it is far more likely to get lost in the general background noise of the world!

Track Listing: News From The Shed; The Gabdash; Reading The River; Kickshaws; Everything Stops For Tea; Sticks And Stones; Weaves; Whisstrionics; Mean Time; Pepper

Personnel: John Butcher: tenor & soprano saxophones; Phil Durrant: violin, electronics; Paul Lovens: selected drums, cymbals, saw; Radu Malfatti: trombone, zither, accessories; John Russell: acoustic guitar.

Title: News From The Shed | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Emanem

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Multiple Reviews
Catching Up With
Read more articles
Into Darkness

Into Darkness

Iluso Records
2018

buy
So Beautiful, It Starts to Rain

So Beautiful, It...

Clean Feed Records
2017

buy
Last Dream at the Morning

Last Dream at the...

Relative Pitch Records
2017

buy
Tangle

Tangle

Fataka
2016

buy
So Beautiful, It Starts To Rain

So Beautiful, It...

Clean Feed Records
2016

buy
 

Plume

Challenge Jazz
2013

buy

Related Articles

Read Picture in Black and White CD/LP/Track Review
Picture in Black and White
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: October 15, 2018
Read Change In The Air CD/LP/Track Review
Change In The Air
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 15, 2018
Read I Ching CD/LP/Track Review
I Ching
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: October 15, 2018
Read Hidden Details CD/LP/Track Review
Hidden Details
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: October 15, 2018
Read We Are the Orchestra CD/LP/Track Review
We Are the Orchestra
by James Fleming
Published: October 14, 2018
Read Electric Miles CD/LP/Track Review
Electric Miles
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 14, 2018
Read "Selective Coverage" CD/LP/Track Review Selective Coverage
by Jim Olin
Published: September 20, 2018
Read "Invisible Touch At Taktlos Zurich" CD/LP/Track Review Invisible Touch At Taktlos Zurich
by John Sharpe
Published: May 26, 2018
Read "Where We Stand" CD/LP/Track Review Where We Stand
by Jerome Wilson
Published: July 23, 2018
Read "Heart Love" CD/LP/Track Review Heart Love
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 12, 2018
Read "For 2 Akis" CD/LP/Track Review For 2 Akis
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 3, 2018
Read "Ethio Jazz Volume One" CD/LP/Track Review Ethio Jazz Volume One
by Geno Thackara
Published: October 9, 2018