12 Milagritos

John Butcher

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12 Milagritos Review

by Steve Loewy

Saxophonist John Butcher's style can be recognized in a flash. The split tones, slap tonguing, jabs, and spurts are remarkably idiosyncratic. They are also remarkably good, even if they tend to be predictable. His trio with percussionist Gene Robair and bassist Matthew Sperry is a finely oiled unit, utterly subversive, powerful, and unique. On the singular "Nervio," Butcher's saxophone pounds energetically against an underbelly of scratchy string bass, leading to a held tone building tension, and never really releasing it. This is followed by the sprightly "Labio," with its disjointed clipped phrasing. And so on. This release has the advantage of 12 tracks, ranging in length from one to eight minutes, each of which is sufficiently different to keep the listener's interest. This is noise/improvisation at its best, logically developed and touching a plethora of moods and textures. The bassist shows spectacular form, with studied intervallic leaps, and horn-like runs, though nothing on the recording is closely related to any sort of common improvisatory strategy. Here is music that soars in its own way, oblivious to the world, yet forging new perspectives that sound a cry for freedom. Butcher and his colleagues seem to hear the notes differently than anyone else on the planet, forging new traditions, and sputtering a fresh dynamic.

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