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Earlier Collaborations

Peter Coker | Embers | Paal Nilssen-Love | Vanessa Mackness | Frisque Concordance

Peter Coker / Peter Nykyruj / Phil Butcher

I was very saddened by the sudden death, in 2010, of my good friend Peter Coker.
We met at university in 1973, and began playing together in the group Habilis.
Over the next decade we explored a lot of music together - especially jazz - playing in wine-bar duos, jazz quartets and concert big bands.

Some memorable gigs include the Bracknell and Hammersmith Jazz festivals, weekly residencies at Chat's Palace, The White Hart Drury Lane, and winning the 1980 BBC "Rehearsal Band of the Year" Award.
By the mid 80s Peter had moved away from playing guitar, but remained a passionate music lover.

Photo by Patsy Bennett, taken at our regular Sunday lunchtime duo at The Crown (aka Croker's Folly), St. John's Wood - late 70s.

Peter Nykyruj The Chat's Palace gig was often with Australian drummer Peter Nykyruj, who died in 2004. During his stay in London he worked closely with Mike Osborne and Harry Miller.
In the late 70s, we also played in Chris Burn's Jazz Ensemble and the quartet in this 1979 photo, with Peter Coker and my brother Phil.

Phil Butcher went on to play with Iggy Pop, the Tiger Lillies and the Gang of Four - and to model for Yohji Yamamoto.
His own playing career was ended by a brain aneurism in 1998.

John Butcher - tenor | Peter Coker - guitar
Peter Nykyruj - drums | Phil Butcher - bass


embers Marcio Mattos - cello
John Butcher - saxophones
Chris Burn - piano
Jim Denley - flute

Begun in 1985, when Australian Jim Denley moved to London, Embers toured the UK and Europe and were memorably advertised by a Belgian promoter as "Angry Young Jazz".

 Embers Live

Cassette only release on Acta.

Live recordings from Holland and Birmingham - 1988.

Paal Nilssen-Love

john butcher and Paal Nilssen-Love

Butcher and Nilssen-Love first met when Paal opened for John's concert at Blå, Oslo in 1999. In 2002 Paal organised a duo tour in Scandinavia some of which comprises the CD Concentric.

In 2006 Butcher joined the Sten Sendall Trio (+ Paal and Johan Berthling) for two concerts. This quartet visited the Vancouver Jazz Festival in summer 2007 and released the CD Strokes.

In 2015 the duo played in Riga, Latvia - their first musical meeting since 10 years.

butcher nilssen-love sten sandell cd cover
order CD from Clean Feed

Sten Sandell - piano & electronics
John Butcher - saxophones & feedback
Johan Berthling - bass
Paal Nilssen-Love - drums and percussion

David Grubbs' Sleeve Notes | Dusted | all about jazz | Wondering Sound


John Butcher - saxophones
Paal Nilssen-Love - drums and percussion

Bill Meyer's Sleeve Notes | Paris Transatlantic | all about jazz

"Not so much sheets of sound, but entire kingsize mattresses rain down." Wire.

Vanessa Mackness

mackness and butcher
© phillip edwards

Singer Vanessa Mackness was initially a painter; a graduate of the Camberwell School of Art. She threw herself into vocal work after meeting Phil Minton and Maggie Nicols.

Derek Bailey's 1990 London Company Week was the first occasion for Butcher and Mackness to improvise together. Many duo concerts followed (as well as some with Bailey), and they released Respiritus on Incus.

Mackness rarely performs now, and has returned to painting.
 Respiritus - London 1994.

Sculpture on cover by Richard Mackness.


Both Butcher and Mackness's gifts seem particularly defined in the minute sensitivities of control. Butcher is a complete virtuoso, able to produce exquisite polyphonics and harmonics at any volime. Mackness's beautifully clear vocal production and her ability to see deply into the the meaning of Burcher's lush backgrounds make them an ideal pairing, and Respiritus a beautiful record. WIRE

Frisque Concordance

frisque Concordance Georg Gräwe - piano | Martin Blume - drums | Hans Schneider - bass

The quartet worked from the first concert in Nickelsdorf in 1991 until 1996. They released Spellings as the first issue of the Random Acoustics label. Butcher also joined the last version of Georg Gräwe's Grubenklang Orchestra and later made the duo CD "Light's View", released on Nuscope.


A live recording of the group's 2nd concert - in Bochum, Germany in 1994.
Released on Random Acoustics.