These two concert excerpts recorded by John Butcher of his long-standing trio with Phil Durrant and John Russell were recorded seven and eight years after its formation in Russell's flat in 1984. Butcher's soprano saxophone constitutes the bellwether in this free music ensemble offering up microtonal meditations for Russell and Durant to open up and find their way into. It works that way in every piece -- at least in the six here -- and that's fine. When Butcher is on his game, there is no one better at creating a conical way in than he, using various breathing techniques to hold tones or obliterate phrases mid though, he offers his two collaborators shifting boundary from which they can either vault or crash into without restraint. Russell's guitar playing, deeply influenced by Derek Bailey, seeks to weave around rather than through Butcher's tonal inquiries, adding warmth and dimension, while Durant's nearly incessant bowing and sawing provides a textural basis on which to rest the chromatic discoveries of his mates. There are no slow moving trains in this station, each of them acts and reacts with a speed that is astonishing, and yet they never lose sight of how important restraint is in the articulation of such intricate ideas. This is one of the very best recordings Butcher appears on, and hope that the trio gets a proper hearing with unexpurgated concerts in the near future.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek