275

Johnny Butler: Solo

Mark F. Turner By

Sign in to view read count
On any street corner or venue it's possible to hear a musician playing solo saxophone, its reed-song beckoning down thoroughfares to anyone that will listen. But by putting a spin on things, it's quite another matter to hear and see that horn wired into a laptop computer, as it provides multiphonic voices and looped patterns, fed back into music that is familiar yet ethereal. Enter saxophonist Johnny Butler's Solo.

For Butler, a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory who has studied with the likes of Billy Hart and Vijay Iyer and works in a number for experimental groups, including his electric quintet called Scurvy, Solo shows a musician who is open to new possibilities.

The idea of loop-based music is more recognized with the guitar, as Butler cites the influence of King Crimson's Robert Fripp, where the instrument is navigated through multiple threads and simultaneous accompaniment and solo parts. Butler takes advantage of these concepts via hardware and software to examine new contours, shapes and textures through his saxophone; to become a veritable one-man saxophone ensemble, weaving multiple horn patterns that coalesce and separate in real time without the use of overdubs or post-recording manipulation.

The saxophone's resonance is almost unrecognizable in "Cathedral," a slow moving tide of elongated notes that are alien-like but also soothingly breathtaking. The sax ensemble surfaces on "Katrina," paying homage to John Coltrane and in remembrance of Hurricane Katrina, its mid-tempo procession soulful and reflective.

A clearer sense of Butler's process flow is heard in "Glitch" a live funk piece taken from one of his solo concerts. His fervent playing and quick adjustments in a number of loop patterns is quite fascinating to hear, if not visually witnessed, as the crowd applauses at the conclusion. Solo ends as intriguingly as it began with "Eulogy," a sonic work of symmetry. And therein lies the rub, as it ends after only four tracks. A very interesting, but all-too-brief ride. Butler proves that the possibilities of looped-based saxophone are definitely wide open.

Track Listing: Catherdral; Katrina, Glitch, Eulogy.

Personnel: Johnny Butler: saxophone, laptop.

Title: Solo | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Self Produced


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Whispers on the Wind CD/LP/Track Review Whispers on the Wind
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman CD/LP/Track Review Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Heptagon CD/LP/Track Review Heptagon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 23, 2017
Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read "The Swimmer" CD/LP/Track Review The Swimmer
by Phil Barnes
Published: March 4, 2017
Read "April" CD/LP/Track Review April
by Jerome Wilson
Published: April 26, 2017
Read "Then and Now" CD/LP/Track Review Then and Now
by Duncan Heining
Published: May 2, 2017
Read "Manhattan EP" CD/LP/Track Review Manhattan EP
by Troy Dostert
Published: March 2, 2017
Read "Nearness And You, Duets and Improvisations" CD/LP/Track Review Nearness And You, Duets and Improvisations
by John Sharpe
Published: November 16, 2016
Read "Groovin’ Hard - Live at the Penthouse 1964 - 1968" CD/LP/Track Review Groovin’ Hard - Live at the Penthouse 1964 - 1968
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 11, 2017

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY IT!  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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