John Butcher

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Intentions Review

by Fran├žois Couture

Saxophonist John Butcher and violinist Phil Durrant have been playing together for over 15 years, both as a duet and in larger groupings (their trio with John Russell, Chris Burn's ensemble), both as an acoustic and an electro-acoustic unit. Intentions was recorded in June 2000 in Vancouver, Canada, cellist Peggy Lee's home ground. Lee is the perfect group player. She is able to slip her own personality in any equation without disrupting the creativity of the other players. Actually, one wishes she'd be a little more disruptive. For instance, on this CD her presence doesn't push either Butcher or Durrant into new territories. Their performance is akin to what can be found on The Scenic Route (with Russell), for example: vivid, challenging, listening-oriented acoustic improv. Of course Lee brings with her different colors and she applies them elegantly to the duo's palette (in "Five Intentions" and "Silver Parcel" in particular). Violin and cello often mesh together through similar slow heavy-bow scraping with interesting results. But if she'd been absent from this session, the music would have sounded quite the same and would have been quite as good. That said, Intentions remains a strong album by strong musicians, as uncompromising and thought-provoking as many of Butcher's recordings from the same period. It just lacks a "uniqueness" factor to set it apart. Still recommended, if only for the brilliant use of silence in "Angelskin."

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