All About Jazz-New York - Under the Roof

While it's not uncommon for musicians to describe their work as a form of research, there are few for whom such usage is so apt as it is for John Butcher. With each passing year he seems to have new discoveries on the saxophone: raw mechanical possibilities and fresh, logical extensions. He is a craftsman in the workings of the horn and an artist in applying each new technique to his personal language. The fact that he is a trained physicist could only lend to his applied manner of learning his instrument.

Under The Roof, a duo with Claudia Ulla Binder, contains some surprises that might by their unsurprising nature be all the more surprising. The unexpected nature of this 2008 session is that the pair at times play something like what one might expect from as classically lyrical a pairing as saxophone and piano. In other words, they shock by falling in line.
Not entirely so, of course; Butcher is still working within his range of under-blowing and over-blowing, but occasionally (to trade on a jazz-journo cliché) he just blows. Binder - who attended Karl Berger's Creative Music Workshop before relocating to Zurich and working with the likes of Hans Koch, Phil Minton and Roger Turner - is equally ready to step into, and sidestep, idiom.
While it's hardly a set of standards, it's great to hear Butcher play so, well, musically. They waver between sound and music and remarkably stay in step throughout.

© Kurt Gottschalk - All About Jazz-New York