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!

5

The Apophonics: On Air

John Eyles By

Sign in to view read count


For those who do not recognise the group name, let's introduce The Apophonics—on saxophones, from London, England, John Butcher... on bass, also from London, England, John Edwards... and, on energised surfaces and synth, from San Francisco, California, drummer Gino Robair. The more savvy reader will have spotted that On Air is released on Weight of Wax, Butcher's own record label, so the presence of the saxophonist will be no surprise. The membership of the trio is no surprise either, as Butcher has collaborated separately with Robair and Edwards since 1997. After the three first played together in Butcher's eight-piece group that recorded somethingtobesaid (Weight of Wax, 2009) at the 2008 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, the trio formed in 2011 and played concerts in France and Belgium.

The group name is related to the title of the Butcher-Robair duo album, Apophenia (Rastacan, 2011). The word "apophenia" describes the human tendency to sees patterns which do not really exist in random data, for instance seeing recognisable shapes in cloud formations or ink blots. "Apophonia" is not a real word but it would describe a similar tendency to hear patterns in random sounds. So, "The Apophonics" would seem to be a subtly humorous, self-mocking name. Good on them.

As its title implies, On Air was recorded to be broadcast on radio, specifically on BBC Radio 3's "Jazz on 3" programme. The studio recording was made in May 2012 and is BBC quality, with every detail and nuance captured perfectly. The music consists of three improvisations, an extended—thirty-six minute—piece, plus another of eight minutes, and the third just under five. All three tracks demonstrate why the musicians decided to become a trio; they display the kind of empathy and understanding that is only born of long exposure to each other and years of playing together, the kind that gives a convincing impression of telepathy at work.

Unsurprisingly, the sounds of Butcher's saxophones are the main focus of the album; he roams far and wide, testing out the limits of his horns. As so often, his playing style is distinctive and individual as he manages to avoid clichés—his own or other people's—and keep it fresh without sounding gratuitously "experimental." Key to that is his essential sense of melody; time and again he intersperses passages of innovative technique with spontaneously improvised melodic passages that are lilting, poignant and beautiful.

However, no way is this a trio of saxophone plus support, but an amalgamation of three equal voices into a coherent whole; if any of the three elements were absent, the music would be the poorer for it. Edwards and Robair each get their turns in the spotlight and use them to good effect. But the album's most impressive passages of play are easily those in which all the players are in full flight together, the three strands intertwining perfectly. The Apophonics seem set to be a most impressive combination, both on disc and live. Miss them at your peril...

Track Listing: Fires Were Set; Met By Moonlight; London Melodies.

Personnel: John Butcher: saxophones; John Edwards: bass; Gino Robair: energised surfaces, synth.

Title: On Air | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Weight of Wax

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Warning: include(/data/websites/jazznearyou.com/www/html/templates/calendar/cal_related_cached.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/websites/allaboutjazz.com/www/html/content/article.php on line 68

Warning: include(): Failed opening '/data/websites/jazznearyou.com/www/html/templates/calendar/cal_related_cached.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/usr/lib/php5:/data/websites/allaboutjazz.com/www/html:/usr/share/php') in /home/websites/allaboutjazz.com/www/html/content/article.php on line 68

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 "A Big (Band) Swinging Christmas!" CD/LP/Track Review A Big (Band) Swinging Christmas!
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 25, 2017
Read "Syzygy" CD/LP/Track Review Syzygy
by Paul Rauch
Published: March 6, 2017
Read "Blooming Tall Phlox" CD/LP/Track Review Blooming Tall Phlox
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 23, 2017
Read "Carry Fire" CD/LP/Track Review Carry Fire
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: September 22, 2017
Read "Rediscovered Ellington" CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 4, 2017
Read "Living Tribute" CD/LP/Track Review Living Tribute
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 27, 2017