John Butcher – STUCK

Using 7 days in a week of lock-down as his aural canvas, John Butcher renders his daily thoughts, feelings and experiences with a rich array of solo works for Tenor saxophone, Soprano saxophone and Saxophone driven piano. John’s work and remarkable technique is usually brought to life by the milieu of tempered environments and interaction with both other players and the audience. Alone, enclosed within 4 walls with a microphone, he unveils a side to his practice that is rarely revealed. There’s tense tonal passages that meet glimmers of melodic lines. Moments of slow, searching refrains that roll out, before the next day sputtering in warbler-esque lexicon. On ‘Thursday’ spirals of notes ascend, descend and wind around as if battling with gravity. Driving a piano with his saxophone, he conjures vaporous fogs of sound, capturing dense subjectivity in thick clouds. Like Steve Lacy’s solo experimentations documented on ‘Lapis’ and ‘Straws’, ‘STUCK’ offer an aural vantage point into John’s complex inner worlds. A rewarding experience on several listens.


John Butcher / saxophones & recording


Tenor saxophone (1, 6)

Soprano saxophone (2, 4, 5)

Saxophone driven piano (3)

Recorded at home, London, June 1-8, 2020.

Artwork design by Oliver Barrett

1 - monday: for C.T. - (4:05)
2 - tuesday: for N.J.P. - (1.40)
3 - wednesday: for P.G. - (5:34)
4 - thursday: for K.I. - (4:20)
5 - friday: for D.T. - (2:33)
6 - saturday: for J.J. - (4:16)
7 - sunday: for R.Q. - (0:52)

John Butcher

Butcher is well known as a saxophonist who attempts to engage with the uniqueness of time and place. His music ranges through improvisation, his own compositions, multitracked pieces and explorations with feedback and unusual acoustics. Since the early 80s he has collaborated with hundreds of musicians – including Derek Bailey, Rhodri Davies, Andy Moor (EX), Phil Minton, Christian Marclay, Eddie Prevost, John Stevens’ SME, Gino Robair, Polwechsel, Mark Sanders, John Tilbury, and Okkyung Lee.

Alongside long term projects he values occasional encounters; from large groups such as the EX Orkestra & Butch Morris’ “London Skyscraper”, to duo concerts with Fred Frith, Akio Suzuki, Paal Nilssen-Love, Keiji Haino, David Toop, Otomo Yoshihide, Sophie Agnel and Matthew Shipp.

Recent compositions include “Penny Wands” for Futurist Intonarumori, two HCMF commissions for his own groups, “Good Liquor Caused my Heart for to Sing” for the London Sinfonietta and “Tarab Cuts”, a response to recordings of early Arabic classical music which was shortlisted for a 2014 British Composer’s Award.

“English saxophonist John Butcher may be among the world’s most influential musicians, operating at the cutting-edge of improvisatory practice since the ‘80s. Whenever an acoustic musician starts to sound like a bank of oscillators, a tropical forest, a brook or an insect factory, Butcher’s influence is likely nearby.” – New York City Jazz Record.