John Butcher at the Standing Stones of Stenness

Standing Stones of Stenness, Orkney - by Keiko Yoshida.

Inner Compass -20 years of solo works - tokafi


Performing solo has been part of my musical life since I first rather nervously tried it at the Workers’ Music Association in Notting Hill in the early 1980s. Thinking about those early days, I wrote in “Rubberneck”:

After a few concerts I'd learnt a lot about making connections - but had also noticed recognisable pieces beginning to develop. I quite liked this, but worried about what it meant for long-term solo work. For a while, I almost envied composers; able to wrap up a piece, send it out into the world, and move on to the next. But a lot of the pleasure in giving solo concerts is connected to the hope of finding, spontaneously, some music you didn't really know about beforehand.
Playing pieces is too close to playing routines and a concert is an opportunity for much more. As a live performer, improvising usually just feels better - less acting, less theatre, and more chance for a little magic.

In many ways, this is still close to my feelings about solo playing, whether in conventional spaces or in unusual non-concert locations. Such site-specific work grew from a 2002 event within the cavernous Utsunomiya Stone Mountain, Japan. Other special places and acoustics I’ve been fortunate to visit include Oberhausen's 200m tall  gasometer, James Magee's The Hill in the West Texas desert (with Joe McPhee), Cape Spear’s bunkers in Newfoundland and the RESONANT SPACES tour of Scotland and the Orkneys.
Saxophone-controlled feedback and amplified small sounds have been another fruitful area, both for live and for studio work (such as on Invisible Ear). 
Whilst most releases capture live performances, I have also, since 1991’s Thirteen Friendly Numbers, used multitracking to produce studio compositions.

Inner Compass - tokafi

The Geometry of Sentiment
The Geometry of Sentiment artCD / DL

Signal to Noise / Wire
All About Jazz

Cavern with Nightlife
Cavern with Nightlife artCD / DL

WIRE (article) / WIRE (review)

London and Cologne
London and Cologne artCD / DL

Coda / Jazzthetik

13 Friendly Numbers
13 Friendly Numbers artCD / DL

MOJO / Ostinato / Penguin Guide
Bill Meyer’s Sleeve Notes

Winter Gardens
Winter Gardens artDL

Free Jazz Blog / All About Jazz

Freedom and Sound
Freedom and Sound artFree DL
Made to Measure
Made to Measuer artDL

Tone Shift / Free Jazz Blog

On Being Observed
On Being Observed artDL

The Sound Projector

Trace artDL


Horn Bill
Horn Bill artCD


Setting the Spirit
Setting the Spirit cassetteK7


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