Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

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

More Articles

Read Flaneur CD/LP/Track Review Flaneur
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: January 16, 2018
Read D'Agala CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 16, 2018
Read Vertical CD/LP/Track Review Vertical
by Don Phipps
Published: January 16, 2018
Read In Stride CD/LP/Track Review In Stride
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 16, 2018
Read Solid Gold CD/LP/Track Review Solid Gold
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 15, 2018
Read Ts'iibil Chaaltun CD/LP/Track Review Ts'iibil Chaaltun
by Don Phipps
Published: January 15, 2018
Read "Duo (DCWM) 2013" CD/LP/Track Review Duo (DCWM) 2013
by John Sharpe
Published: July 28, 2017
Read "The Princess" CD/LP/Track Review The Princess
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 18, 2017
Read "Aerial" CD/LP/Track Review Aerial
by Pascal-Denis Lussier
Published: May 3, 2017
Read "The Behemoth" CD/LP/Track Review The Behemoth
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 9, 2017
Read "Generations" CD/LP/Track Review Generations
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 16, 2017
Read "Aspiration" CD/LP/Track Review Aspiration
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 6, 2017