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Album Review

In May 2002, John Butcher was in Canada for a short tour, appearing with the quartet Polwechsel at the Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville, in particular. He also visited Toronto for a concert at the Music Gallery in an ad hoc trio with turntablist Mike Hansen and percussionist Tomasz Krakowiak. Both are considerably less-known than the English saxophonist; it would have been easy, even tempting to let him run the show. Instead, the trio turns out to be very egalitarian — add to that unusual and exciting. Among legions of experimental turntablists looking for sounds from the record player itself, Hansen appears almost anachronistic. His style is refreshing, since it doesn't rule out referencing, yet it remains cutting-edge, abstract, and perplexing. One could compare him to Martin Tétreault in his early Ambiances Magnétiques years (think Des Pas et des Mois or Bruire's L'Âme de l'Objet). Krakowiak is a textural player, a rubber and a scratcher more than hitter. Two-thirds of the time, his contribution remains unnoticed as it blends with the surface noise stutters of the vinyl and the breathing, key clicking, and needlepoint blowing of Butcher. The latter explores in this session his most intriguing self-developed techniques, his controlled feedback playing being the most unusual. Hansen tends to occupy a bit too much space in "Noise Temperature Suite," but "Standing Wave Suite" sees the three players locking into a riveting conversation. The lack of a precise recording date (May 2002) and the fact that the album came out in Spool's Field series (devoted to sound art) instead of its Improvisers series might indicate the involvement of some editing and/or processing after the fact, but if that is so, it is likely to leave listeners none the wiser. ~ François Couture, Rovi


Born: 25 October 1954 in Brighton, Sussex, England

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Despite the fact that British saxophonist John Butcher came relatively late to free improvisation, his highly personal sound turned him into one of the key sax players of the late '90s onward. A very busy schedule and an impressive number of music associates have given him the exposure he needed to build a strong following among avant-garde music fans. Drawing from the techniques of Evan Parker and the philosophy of Derek Bailey, he freed his playing of unnecessary stamina to open new directions...
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Equation, John Butcher
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