Way Out Northwest

John Butcher

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Way Out Northwest Review

by François Couture

For British sax player John Butcher, way out northwest is Vancouver, B.C. (Canada), where, in June 2007, he performed this live date with bassist Torsten Müller and drummer Dylan van der Schyff. They sound like old friends meeting again and picking up the conversation right where they'd left it the last time. And yet, this was their first on-stage encounter as a trio. Butcher is in a very talkative mood on this album, sending out flurries of notes, working up a logorrhea of stream-of-consciousness music. His ultra-quiet sound-based techniques are featured only in the track "Taktgebertendenz." He might be more boisterous than his usual self, but Müller and van der Schyff were definitely ready to match him on that. "Häufig eine Hydraulische Metaphertendenz" and "Sibilia e Succhia" are dense, exhilarating free improvisations featuring fabulous interplay. Van der Schyff, who always had an octopusian tendency, is in particularly fine form on this date, often sounding like a Paul Lovens on speed. Müller's softer, somewhat more lyrical musical persona acts like a center of gravity, calming things down and keeping the other two from getting carried away and simply flying out of orbit. Way Out Northwest is a short disc (48 minutes), most probably not the complete performance, but the bits that made it onto the CD are definitely keepers. This first meeting produced some highly spirited, dynamic, even at times playful free improvisation.

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