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
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