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RED Trio & John Butcher: Summer Skyshift

John Sharpe By

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It was the release of Empire (No Business, 2011) that constituted the point at which many people first began to pay attention to the Portuguese RED Trio. That collaboration with English saxophonist John Butcher featured on several year end lists. It paved the way for a series of further alliances, documented on disc with trumpeter Nate Wooley and vibraphonist Mattias Ståhl, as well as other albums by the core trio. With Summer Skyshift, the band has come full circle as Butcher is on board once more in a continuous seat of the pants navigation captured live at the 2015 Jazz em Agosto Festival in Lisbon and demarcated into three tracks for listening convenience, while the fourth is presumably an encore.

Butcher remains a master of unconventional saxophonics, which can evoke images as diverse as a mewling baby or a jarring industrial process. He has developed such sounds into a coherent personal language, rather than dipping into them for passing impact. But he also reveals a less expected penchant for visceral excitement that sounds closer to the free jazz mainstream in its fiery energy. Whether cause or effect, on this set Rodrigo Pinheiro mixes his accustomed piano manipulations with flowing lines and emphatic minimalist patterns. Indeed at times especially during "1.1" and "1.3," the foursome recall the Schlippenbach Trio at full tilt.

Drummer Gabriel Ferrandini's carpet of timbrally thrilling momentum helps in that regard. Bassist Hernani Faustino too takes an assertive role. His muscular throbbing pizzicato anchors the freewheeling interaction. When "1.1" ends with acid soprano saxophone strokes etched over rippling piano as the group move into the type of territory more familiar from their earlier excursion. Pinheiro's piano preparations merge into spacious percussive effects from both bass and drums, and Butcher's reverberant but controlled overblowing. Butcher and bassist Faustino's duet later during "1.2" typifies the exceptional level of responsive dialogue heard throughout this excellent performance.

Track Listing: 1.1; 1.2; 1.3; 2.

Personnel: Rodrigo Pinheiro: piano; Hernani Faustino: bass; Gabriel Ferrandini: drums; John Butcher: tenor and soprano saxophones.

Title: Summer Skyshift | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records


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